Qur'an


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Qur'an

or

Koran

(kōrăn`, –rän`) [Arab.,=reading, recitation], the sacred book of Islam. Revealed by God to the Prophet MuhammadMuhammad
[Arab.,=praised], 570?–632, the name of the Prophet of Islam, one of the great figures of history, b. Mecca. Early Life

Muhammad was the son of Abdallah ibn Abd al-Muttalib and his wife Amina, both of the Hashim clan of the dominant Kuraish (Quraysh)
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 in separate revelations over the major portion of the Prophet's life at Mecca and at Medina, the Qur'an was intended as a recited text, and was not compiled as a single volume during the life of the Prophet. The establishment of the canonical text is attributed to the 3d caliph, Uthman, who appointed a committee (651–52) to reconcile the conflicting versions then available, under the direction of Zaid ibn Thabit, one of the Prophet's scribes. The internal organization of the Qur'an is somewhat ad hoc. Revelations consisted of verses (ayat) grouped into 114 chapters (suras). The arrangement of the suras is mechanical: the first, al-Fateha or "the Opening," is a short prayer exalting God that has become an essential part of all Islamic liturgy and prayer. The rest are graded generally by length, from longest to shortest. It is thus impossible to tell from the book the chronological order of revelations; generally, however, the shorter suras, more electric and fervent than the rest, are the earlier, while many of the longer ones (and all of those revealed at Medina) are later. The Qur'an refers to religious and historical events but seldom provides comprehensive accounts. Its focus is their significance, rather than their narration. God in the Qur'an speaks in the first person. Tafsir, Qur'anic exegesis, initially emerged as a branch of the science of Hadith, in the attempt to gather Muhammad's elucidations of obscure Qur'anic passages, then developed into a separate discipline with the introduction of etymological and literary analysis tools. Being the verbatim Word of God, the text of the Qur'an is valid for religious purposes only in its original Arabic, cannot be modified, and is not translatable, although the necessity for non-Arabic interpretations is recognized. This has made the Qur'an the most read book in its original language and preserved a classical form of Arabic as an Islamic lingua franca and medium of learning.

Bibliography

See A. J. Arberry's translation of the Qu'ran, The Koran Interpreted (2 vol., 1955, repr. in 1 vol., 2008); I. Toshihiko, God and Man in the Koran (1964); R. Bell, Introduction to the Koran (2d ed. 1970); K. Cragg, The Event of the Koran (1971); W. H. Wagner, Opening the Qur'an: Introducing Islam's Holy Book (2008); Z. Sardar, Reading the Qur'an (2011).

Qur'an

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Muhammad was illiterate. The text he received from Allah and dictated to scribes, compiled and referenced only eighteen years after his death in 632 CE, is called the Qur'an ("Recitation"; also transliterated as Koran). As one of the most recent of the world's scriptural texts, it has a strong historical basis. And because it cannot truthfully be translated from its original Arabic, we know exactly what Muhammad caused to be written, down to the very last word. For those who cannot read Arabic, it has, of course, been translated into various languages. But those translations are not considered to be valid copies of the Qur'an. They are simply aids.

The Qur'an is divided into 114 chapters (suras), which are further divided into a total of some 6,000 verses. In length, it is roughly the same as the Christian New Testament.

Sura 1 immediately places Allah at center stage:

In the name of God, Most gracious, Most Merciful, Praise be to God, The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds: Most Gracious, Most merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, And Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, Those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.

The Qur'an goes on to defines the quintessential monotheistic theological statement:

There is no God but [Allah]; That is the witness of Allah, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no God but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise (3:18)

Muhammad saw both Jews and Christians as people to whom God had spoken in the past. He called them People of the Book:

Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them he sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed; but the People of the Book, after the clear Signs came to them, did not differ among themselves, except through selfish contumacy (2:213) ... Say, "O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah" (3:64).

Many of the stories of the Jewish scriptures are told as well in the Qur'an:

He it is who created the heavens and the earth is Six Days. (57:4)

We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and they wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein. (2:34)

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said, "I will make thee an Imam to the Nations." (2:124)

Behold! The angel said: "O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee—chosen thee above the women of all nations." (3:42)

Then will Allah say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and maturity." (5:110)

Many of the stories, of course, differ somewhat from their Jewish or Christian counterparts. Ishmael, Abraham's eldest son, is the one to whom a blessing is imparted, not Isaac, the youngest. Jesus is crucified and dies in the Christian scriptures. But in the Qur'an: "they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, Allah raised him up unto himself: And Allah is exalted in power, Wise" (4:157-158).

These common stories probably mean that Muhammad's audience was already familiar with the stories of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. But the Qur'an is considered by Muslims to be the final revelation by God to humankind. It completes the divine revelation. It is God's final word until that day when "Allah reward[s] the righteous, (namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of purity, saying (to them), `Peace be on you; enter ye the garden, because of (the good) which ye did (in the world)'" (16:27-32).

References in periodicals archive ?
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