The Quran is the holy book for Muslims, revealed in stages to the Prophet Muhammad (d.) over 23 years.
Quranic revelations are regarded by Muslims as the sacred word of God, intended to correct any errors in previous holy books such as the Old and New Testaments.
The Quran (“Qor-Ann”) is a Message from Allah to humanity. It was transmitted to us in a chain starting from the Almighty Himself to the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (d.). This message was given to the Prophet Muhammad (d.) in pieces over a period spanning approximately 23 years (610 CE to 632 CE). The Prophet ( d.) was 40 years old when the Quran began to be revealed to him, and he was 63 when the revelation was completed. The language of the original message was Arabic, but it has been translated into many other languages.
The Quran is one of the two sources which form the basis of Islam. The second source is the Sunnah of the Prophet ( d.). What makes the Quran different from the Sunnah is primarily its form. Unlike the Sunnah, the Quran is literally the Word of Allah, whereas the Sunnah was inspired by Allah but the wording and actions are the Prophet’s ( d.). The Quran has not been expressed using any human’s words. Its wording is letter for letter fixed by no one but Allah.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) was the final Messenger of Allah to humanity, and therefore the Quran is the last Message which Allah has sent to us. Its predecessors such as the Torah, Psalms, and Gospels have all been superseded. It is an obligation – and blessing – for all who hear of the Quran and Islam to investigate it and evaluate it for themselves. Allah has guaranteed that He will protect the Quran from human tampering, and today’s readers can find exact copies of it all over the world. The Quran of today is the same as the Quran revealed to Muhammad ( d.) 1400 years ago.
The history of the Holy Quran
The Quran is the backbone of Islam. On this Sacred Book of Allah depends the Islamic call, state, society and the civilisation of the Muslim world. It is the last Divine revelation, which was sent down to Prophet Muhammad ( d.), the last and final of all Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention. His task was to convey the message of worshipping the One God, Allah, without ascribing any partners to Him. The Noble Quran, which is the source of guidance and mercy to mankind, is divided into one hundred and fourteen (114) Surah (chapters) of varying lengths. Ninety-three chapters were revealed in Makkah, while the remaining twenty-one were revealed in Madina.
The first revelation that the Prophet ( d.) received was Surah Al-’Alaq, which was in Makkah where Surah An-Najm was to later became the first to be recited openly to the people. In Madina. Surah Al-Mutaffifeen was the first one revealed after the Hijrah (migration). The Prophet ( d.) had to flee to Madinato save his own life and the lives of his followers, upon the command of Allah.
The last verse sent down to the Prophet ( d.) was the saying of Allah which means: “…This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion…” [Quran: 5:3]
Some chapters in the Quran focus on the call to Islam as guidance for humanity. They focus upon monotheism and the fight against polytheism and idolatry. Thus, stress is laid on all that is related to faith. In other chapters, attention is given to legislation, acts of worship, relationships among people and the laws that regulate matters within the Muslim community, government, and family.
A number of chapters inform about Resurrection, the Hereafter and the unseen; others relate the stories of various prophets and their calls to their people to return to Allah. We see how the previous nations were severely punished when they disobeyed Allah and denied the messages of previous prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention.
In addition, several chapters focus on the story of creation and the development of human life. In fact, Makkah revelations made the Muslims’ faith in Allah firmly established. On the other hand, Madina revelations were meant to translate the faith into action and give details of the Divine Law.
Allah will forever preserve the Quran against all attempts to destroy or corrupt it. Being guarded by Allah, it will always remain pure. There does not exist a single copy with any variation from the recognised text.
Any attempt of alteration has resulted in failure.
Upon the command of the Prophet (d.) his Companions would write down what was revealed of the Noble Quran. They used, for this purpose, palm branches stripped of leaves, parchments, shoulder bones, stone tablets, etc. About forty people were involved in this task. Among them was Zayd Ibn Thaabit may Allah be pleased with him who showed his work to the Prophet . Thus, the Quran was correctly arranged during the Prophet’s life, but it was not yet compiled into one book. In the meantime, most of the Prophet’s Companions memorised the Quran.
When Abu Bakr (R.A.) became Caliph a large number of the Companions were killed during the War of Apostasy. ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (R.A.) went to the Caliph and discussed the idea of compiling the Quran into one volume. He was disturbed, as most of those who memorised it had died. Then, Abu Bakr (R.A.) called for Zayd and commissioned him to collect the Quran into one book, which became known as the ‘Mus-haf.’
After Zayd (R.A.) accomplished this great task and organized the Quran into one book, he submitted the precious collection to Abu Bakr (R.A.) who kept it in his possession until the end of his life. During the caliphate of ‘Umar (R.A.) it was kept with his daughter Hafsah (R.A.) who was also a wife of the Prophet (d.).
During the Caliphate of ‘Uthmaan (R.A.) Islam reached many countries, and readers began to recite the Quran in different ways (dialects). ‘Uthmaan (R.A.) then had various copies made and sent them out to the different Muslim lands, lest these dialects would cause alterations to the Quran, and kept the original copy with Hafsah (R.A.) . Thus, the Quran remained preserved and the Caliph was very much pleased with his achievement.
Today, every copy of the Quran conforms with the standard copy of ‘Uthmaan (R.A.) . In fact, Muslims over the ages excelled in producing the best manuscripts of the Noble Quran in the most wonderful handwriting. With the introduction of printing, more and more editions of the Noble Quran became available all over the world.
Contents in Quran
There are 114 chapters in the Quran, which is written in the old Arabic dialect.
All the chapters except one begin with the sentence Bismillahir rahmanir raheem, ‘In the name of Allah the most merciful and the most kind’. This is the thought with which Muslims should start every action.
The longest chapter of the Quran is Surah Baqarah (The Cow) with 286 verses and the shortest is Surah Al-Kawther (abundance) which has 3 verses.
The arrangement of surahs does not correspond to the chronological order in which they were revealed.
The Quran is sometimes divided into 30 roughly equal parts, known as juz’. These divisions make it easier for Muslims to read the Quran during the course of a month and many will read one juz’ each day, particularly during the month of Ramadan.
Memorising the Quran
At the time of the revelation of the Quran, books were not readily available and so it was common for people to learn it by heart.
Committing the Quran to memory acted as a great aid for its preservation and any person who is able to accomplish this is known as a hafiz.
Respect of Quran
The Quran is treated with immense respect by Muslims because it is the sacred word of God.
While the Quran is recited aloud, Muslims should behave with reverence and refrain from speaking, eating or drinking, or making distracting noise.