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Qur'an reading
Qur'an translations
Origin and development
Qur'an and Sunnah
Views on the Qur'an
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The Qur’ān [1] (Arabic: القرآن al-qur'ān, literally "the recitation"; also sometimes transliterated as Quran, Koran, or Al-Qur'an) is the central religious text of Islam. Muslims believe the Qur'an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for mankind and consider the text in its original Arabic to be the literal word of God,[2] revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years[3][4] and view the Qur'an as God's final revelation to humanity.[5][6]

Muslims regard the Qur'ān as the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with those revealed to Adam — regarded, in Islam, as the first prophet — and including the Suhuf-i-Ibrahim (Scrolls of Abraham),[7] the Tawrat (Torah),[8][9] the Zabur (Psalms),[10][11] and the Injil (Gospel).[12][13][14] The aforementioned books are recognized in the Qur'ān,[15][16] and the Qur'anic text assumes familiarity[17] with many events from Jewish and Christian scriptures, retelling some of these events in distinctive ways, and referring obliquely to others. It rarely offers detailed accounts of historical events; the Qur'an's emphasis is typically on the moral significance of an event, rather than its narrative sequence. Details to historical events are contained within the Hadith of Muhammad and the narrations of Muhammad's Companions (Sahabah).

The Qur'anic text itself proclaims a divine protection of its message: Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian.[18][19]

The Qur'anic verses were originally memorized by Muhammad's companions as Muhammad recited them, with some being written down by one or more companions on whatever was at hand, from stones to pieces of bark. In the Sunni tradition, the collection of the Qur'ān compilation took place under the Caliph Abu Bakr, this task being led by Zayd ibn Thabit Al-Ansari. "The manuscript on which the Quran was collected, remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him, and then with 'Umar till Allah took him unto Him, and finally it remained with Hafsa bint Umar (Umar's daughter)."[20]

Etymology and meaning

The original usage of the word qur`ān is in the Qur'an itself, where it occurs about 70 times assuming various meanings. It is a verbal noun (maṣdar) of the Arabic verb qara`a (Arabic: قرأ), meaning "he read" or "he recited", and represents the Syriac equivalent qeryānā—which refers to "scripture reading" or "lesson". While most Western scholars consider the word to be derived from the Syriac, the majority of Muslim authorities hold the origin of the word is qara`a itself.[21] Among the earliest meanings of the word Qur'an is the "act of reciting", for example in a Qur'anic passage: "Ours is it to put it together and [Ours is] its qur`ān".[22] In other verses it refers to "an individual passage recited [by Muhammad]". In the large majority of contexts, usually with a definite article (al-), the word is referred to as the "revelation" (tanzīl), that which has been "sent down" at intervals.[23] Its liturgical context is seen in a number of passages, for example: "So when al-qur`ān is recited [by Muhammad], listen to it and keep silent".[24] The word may also assume the meaning of a codified scripture when mentioned with other scriptures such as the Torah and Gospel.[25] The term also has closely related synonyms which are employed throughout the Qur'an. Each of the synonyms possess their own distinct meaning, but their use may converge with that of qur`ān in certain contexts. Such terms include kitāb ("book"); āyah ("sign"); and sūrah ("scripture"). The latter two terms also denote units of revelation. Other related words are: dhikr, meaning "remembrance," used to refer to the Qur'an in the sense of a reminder and warning; and hikma, meaning "wisdom," sometimes referring to the revelation or part of it.<ref name="EoI-Q" />[26]


Main article: Sura
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The first chapter of the Qur'an consisting of seven Ayat.
The Qur'an consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura. Each chapter possesses a title, usually a word mentioned within the chapter itself. In general, the longer chapters appear earlier in the Quran, while the shorter ones appear later. As such, the arrangement is not connected to the sequence of revelation. Each chapter, with the exception of one, commences with the bismillah ir rahman nir rahimm,[27][28]

Literary structure

The Quran's message is conveyed through the use of a variety of literary structures and devices. In its original Arabic idiom, the individual components of the text — surahs and ayat — employ phonetic and thematic structures that assist the audience's efforts to recall the message of the text. There is consensus amongst Arab scholars to use the Quran as a standard by which other Arabic literature should be measured. Muslims point out (in accordance with the Quran itself) that the Quranic content and style is inimitable.[29]

Richard Gottheil and Siegmund Fränkel in the Jewish Encyclopedia write that the oldest portions of the Qur'an reflect significant excitement in their language, through short and abrupt sentences and sudden transitions. The Qur'an nonetheless carefully maintains the rhymed form, like the oracles. Some later portions also preserve this form but also in a style where the movement is calm and the style expository.[30]

Michael Sells, citing the work of the critic Norman O. Brown, acknowledges Brown's observation that the seeming "disorganization" of Qur'anic literary expression — its "scattered or fragmented mode of composition," in Sells's phrase — is in fact a literary device capable of delivering "profound effects — as if the intensity of the prophetic message were shattering the vehicle of human language in which it was being communicated."[31] Sells also addresses the much-discussed "repetitiveness" of the Qur'an, seeing this, too, as a literary device.

"The values presented in the very early Meccan revelations are repeated throughout the hymnic Suras. There is a sense of directness, of intimacy, as if the hearer were being asked repeatedly a simple question: what will be of value at the end of a human life?" [32]

Origin and development

The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

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9th century quran
According to Islam, Muhammad received the Qur'an as a series of revelations from God through the angel Gabriel (see 10:37-38), and is reported to have had mysterious seizures at the moments of inspiration. Welch, a scholar of Islamic studies, states in the Encyclopedia of Islam that he believes the graphic descriptions of Muhammad's condition at these moments may be regarded as genuine,seeing as he was severely disformed after these revelations. According to Welch, these seizures would have been seen as convincing evidence for the superhuman origin of Muhammad's inspirations by the people around him. Muhammad's enemies, however, accused him of being a man who was possessed, or of being a soothsayer or magician since his claimed experiences were similar to those made by those soothsayer figures well known in ancient Arabia. Additionally, Welch states that it remains uncertain whether these experiences occurred before or after Muhammad began to see himself as a prophet[33]

The Qur'ān speaks well of the relationship it has with former books (the Torah and the Gospel) and attributes their similarities to their unique origin and saying all of them have been revealed by one God (Allah).[34]

Based on Islam and nature of pre-islamic Arabia it is generally accepted Muhammad could neither read nor write. He was seen as intelligent and wise man who would simply recite what was revealed to him for his companions to write down and memorize. However some scholars (mostly Western)- (Christoph Luxenberg, Maxime Rodinson, William Montgomery Watt, etc.) - used to argue that the claim that Muhammad was not able to read and write at all is based on weak traditions and that, because of many details concerning Muhammad's biography and teachings, it is not convincing.

The Qur'an did not exist as a single volume between two covers at the time of Muhammad's death in 632. According to Sahih al-Bukhari, at the direction of the first Muslim caliph Abu Bakr this task fell to the scribe Zayd ibn Thabit, who gathered the Quranic material "collecting it from parchments, scapula, leaf-stalks of date palms and from the memories of men who knew it by heart". (Bukhari 6:60:201).[35]. Copies were made, and as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian peninsula into Persia, India, Russia, China, Turkey, and across North Africa, the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, in about 650 ordered a standardized version to be prepared to preserve the sanctity of the text and to establish a definitive spelling for all time. This remains the authoritative text of the Qur'an to this day.[36][37]

Adherents to Islam hold that the wording of the Qur'anic text available today corresponds exactly to that revealed to Muhammad himself: as the words of God, said to be delivered to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. The Qur'ān is not only considered by Muslims to be a guide but also as a sign of the prophethood of Muhammad and the truth of the religion. Muslims argue that it is not possible for a human to produce a book like the Qur'an, as the Qur'ān states:
"And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. But if ye cannot- and of a surety ye cannot- then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject Faith. [38]


The Qur'an is thought to be one of the first texts written in Arabic. It is written in the classical Arabic which is also the Arabic of pre-Islamic poetry including the Mu'allaqat, or Suspended Odes. Some scholars argue that the first Qur'an was not written in Arabic, but instead the spoken language of the time, namely a later Syro-Aramaic. From The Foreign Vocabulary Of The Qur'an, Arthur Jeffery 1938,

Soon after Muhammad's death in 632 CE, armies led by his followers burst out of Arabia and conquered the Near East, Northern Africa, Central Asia, and parts of Europe. Arab rulers had millions of foreign subjects, with whom they had to communicate. Thus, the language rapidly changed in response to this new situation, losing complexities of case and obscure vocabulary. Several generations after the prophet's death, many words used in the Qur'ān had become opaque to ordinary sedentary Arabic-speakers, as Arabic had changed so much, so rapidly. The Bedouin speech changed at a considerably slower rate, however, and early Arabic lexicographers sought out Bedouin speech as well as pre-Islamic poetry to explain difficult words or elucidate points of grammar. Partly in response to the religious need to explain the Qur'an to Muslims who were not familiar with Qur'anic Arabic, Arabic grammar and lexicography soon became important sciences. The model for the Arabic literary language remains to this day the speech used in Qur'anic times, rather than the current spoken dialects.

Literary usage

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11th Century North African Qur'an in the British Museum
In addition to and largely independent of the division into surahs, there are various ways of dividing the Qur'ān into parts of approximately equal length for convenience in reading, recitation and memorization. The Qur'ān is divided into thirty ajza' (parts). The thirty parts can be used to work through the entire Qur'an in a week or a month. Some of these parts are known by names and these names are the first few words by which the Juz starts. A juz' is sometimes further divided into two ahzab (groups), and each hizb is in turn subdivided into four quarters. A different structure is provided by the ruku'at (sing. Raka'ah), semantical units resembling paragraphs and comprising roughly ten ayat each. Some also divide the Qur'ān into seven manazil (stations).


The very word Qur'ān means "recitation", though there is little instruction in the Qur'an itself as to how it is to be recited. The main principle it does outline is: rattil il-Qur'ana tartilan ("repeat the recitation in a collected distinct way"). Tajwid is the term for techniques of recitation, and assessed in terms of how accessible the recitation is to those intent on concentrating on the words.[39]

To perform salat (prayer), a mandatory obligation in Islam, a Muslim is required to learn at least some suras of the Qur'ān (typically starting with the first sura, al-Fatiha, known as the "seven oft-repeated verses," and then moving on to the shorter ones at the end). Until one has learned al-Fatiha, a Muslim can only say phrases like "praise be to God" during the salat.

A person whose recital repertoire encompasses the whole Qur'ān is called a qari' (قَارٍئ) or hafiz (or in the case of a female Hafaz) (which translate as "reciter" or "protector," respectively). Muhammad is regarded as the first qari' since he was the first to recite it. Recitation (tilawa تلاوة) of the Qur'ān is a fine art in the Muslim world.

Schools of recitation

Main articles: Qira'at and
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Page of a 13th century Qur'an, showing Sura 33: 73
There are several schools of Qur'anic recitation, all of which are possible pronunciations of the Uthmanic rasm: Seven reliable, three permissible and (at least) four uncanonical - in 8 sub-traditions each - making for 80 recitation variants altogether[40]. For a recitation to be canonical it must conform to three conditions:
  1. It must match the rasm, letter for letter.
  2. It must conform with the syntactic rules of the Arabic language.
  3. It must have a continuous isnad to Muhammad through tawatur, meaning that it has to be related by a large group of people to another down the isnad chain.

These recitations differ in the vocalization (tashkil تشكيل) of a few words, which in turn gives a complementary meaning to the word in question according to the rules of Arabic grammar. For example, the vocalization of a verb can change its active and passive voice. It can also change its stem formation, implying intensity for example. Vowels may be elongated or shortened, and glottal stops (hamzas) may be added or dropped, according to the respective rules of the particular recitation. For example, the name of archangel Gabriel is pronounced differently in different recitations: Jibrīl, Jabrīl, Jibra'īl, and Jibra'il. The name "Qur'ān" is pronounced without the glottal stop (as "Qurān") in one recitation, and prophet Abraham's name is pronounced Ibrāhām in another. The more widely used narrations are those of Hafs (حفص عن عاصم), Warsh (ورش عن نافع), Qaloon (قالون عن نافع) and Al-Duri according to Abu `Amr (الدوري عن أبي عمرو). Muslims firmly believe that all canonical recitations were recited by the Muhammad himself, citing the respective isnad chain of narration, and accept them as valid for worshipping and as a reference for rules of Sharia. The uncanonical recitations are called "explanatory" for their role in giving a different perspective for a given verse or ayah. Today several dozen persons hold the title "Memorizer of the Ten Recitations." This is considered to be a great accomplishment among the followers of Islam.

The presence of these different recitations is attributed to many hadith. Malik Ibn Anas has reported:[41]
Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abd al-Qari narrated: "Umar Ibn Khattab said before me: I heard Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam reading Surah Furqan in a different way from the one I used to read it, and the Prophet (sws) himself had read out this surah to me. Consequently, as soon as I heard him, I wanted to get hold of him. However, I gave him respite until he had finished the prayer. Then I got hold of his cloak and dragged him to the Prophet (sws). I said to him: "I have heard this person [Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam] reading Surah Furqan in a different way from the one you had read it out to me." The Prophet (sws) said: "Leave him alone [O 'Umar]." Then he said to Hisham: "Read [it]." [Umar said:] "He read it out in the same way as he had done before me." [At this,] the Prophet (sws) said: "It was revealed thus." Then the Prophet (sws) asked me to read it out. So I read it out. [At this], he said: "It was revealed thus; this Qur'ān has been revealed in Seven Ahruf. You can read it in any of them you find easy from among them.

Suyuti, a famous 15th century Islamic theologian, writes after interpreting above hadith in 40 different ways:[42]
And to me the best opinion in this regard is that of the people who say that this Hadith is from among matters of mutashabihat, the meaning of which cannot be understood.

Many reports contradict presence of variant readings:[43]
  • Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami reports, "the reading of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Zayd ibn Thabit and that of all the Muhajirun and the Ansar was the same. They would read the Qur'an according to the Qira'at al-'ammah. This is the same reading which was read out twice by the Prophet (sws) to Gabriel in the year of his death. Zayd ibn Thabit was also present in this reading [called] the 'Ardah-i akhirah. It was this very reading that he taught the Qur'an to people till his death".[44]
  • Ibn Sirin writes, "the reading on which the Qur'an was read out to the prophet in the year of his death is the same according to which people are reading the Qur'an today".[45]
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi also purports that there is only one recitation of Qur'ān, which is called Qira'at of Hafs or in classical scholarship, it is called Qira'at al-'ammah. The Qur'ān has also specified that it was revealed in the language of the prophet's tribe: the Quraysh (19:97, 44:58).[43]

However, the identification of the recitation of Hafs as the Qira'at al-'ammah is somewhat problematic when that was the recitation of the people of Kufa in Iraq, and there is better reason to identify the recitation of the reciters of Madinah as the dominant recitation. The reciter of Madinah was Nafi' and Imam Malik remarked "The recitation of Nafi' is Sunnah." Moreover, the dialect of Arabic spoken by Quraysh and the Arabs of the Hijaz was known to have less use of the letter hamzah, as is the case in the recitation of Nafi', whereas in the Hafs recitation the hamzah is one of the very dominant features.

AZ [however] says that the people of El-Hijaz and Hudhayl, and the people of Makkah and Al-Madinah, to not pronounce hamzah [at all]: and 'Isa Ibn-'Omar says, Tamim pronounce hamzah, and the people of Al-Hijaz, in cases of necessity, [in poetry,] do so.[46]

So the hamzah is of the dialect of the Najd whose people came to comprise the dominant Arabic element in Kufa giving some features of their dialect to their recitation, whereas the recitation of Nafi' and the people of Madinah maintained some features of the dialect of Hijaz and the Quraysh.

However, the discussion of the priority of one or the other recitation is unnecessary since it is a consensus of knowledgable people that all of the seven recitations of the Qur'an are acceptable and valid for recitation in the prayer.

Moreover, the so-called "un-canonical" recitations such as are narrated from some of the Companions and which do not conform to the Uthmani copy of the Qur'an are not legitimate for recitation in the prayer, but knowledge of them can legitimately be used in the tafsir of the Qur'an, not as a proof but as a valid argument for an explanation of an ayah.

Writing and printing

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Page from a Qur'ān ('Umar-i Aqta'). Iran, present-day Afghanistan, Timurid dynasty, circa 1400. Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper Muqaqqaq script. 170 x 109cm (66 15/16 x 42 15/16in.)Historical Region: Uzbekistan.

Most Muslims today use printed editions of the Qur'ān. There are many editions, large and small, elaborate or plain, expensive or inexpensive. Bilingual forms with the Arabic on one side and a gloss into a more familiar language on the other are very popular.

Qur'āns are produced in many different sizes, from extremely large Qur'āns for display purposes, to extremely small Qur'āns.

Qur'āns were first printed from carved wooden blocks, one block per page. There are existing specimen of pages and blocks dating from the 10th century AD. Mass-produced less expensive versions of the Qur'an were later produced by lithography, a technique for printing illustrations. Qur'ans so printed could reproduce the fine calligraphy of hand-made versions.

The oldest surviving Qur'ān for which movable type was used was printed in Venice in 1537/1538. It seems to have been prepared for sale in the Ottoman empire. Catherine the Great of Russia sponsored a printing of the Qur'ān in 1787. This was followed by editions from Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul (1877). [47]

It is extremely difficult to render the full Qur'ān, with all the points, in computer code, such as Unicode. The Internet Sacred Text Archive makes computer files of the Qur'ān freely available both as images[48] and in a temporary Unicode version.[49] Various designers and software firms have attempted to develop computer fonts that can adequately render the Qur'ān.[50]

Before printing was widely adopted, the Qur'ān was transmitted by copyists and calligraphers. Since Muslim tradition felt that directly portraying sacred figures and events might lead to idolatry, it was considered wrong to decorate the Qur'ān with pictures (as was often done for Christian texts, for example). Muslims instead lavished love and care upon the sacred text itself. Arabic is written in many scripts, some of which are both complex and beautiful. Arabic calligraphy is a highly honored art, much like Chinese calligraphy. Muslims also decorated their Qur'āns with abstract figures (arabesques), colored inks, and gold leaf. Pages from some of these antique Qur'āns are displayed throughout this article.

Some Muslims believe that it is not only acceptable, but commendable to decorate everyday objects with Qur'anic verses, as daily reminders. Other Muslims feel that this is a misuse of Qur'anic verses, because those who handle these objects will not have cleansed themselves properly and may use them without respect.


Translation of the Quran has always been a problematic and difficult issue. Since Muslims revere the Qur'an as miraculous and inimitable (i'jaz al-Qur'an), they argue that the Qur'anic text can not be reproduced in another language or form. Furthermore, an Arabic word may have a range of meanings depending on the context, making an accurate translation even more difficult.[51]

Nevertheless, the Qur'ān has been translated into most African, Asian and European languages.[51] The first translator of the Qur'ān was Salman the Persian, who translated Fatihah in Persian during the 7th century.[52] Islamic tradition holds that translations were made for Emperor Negus of Abyssinia and Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, as both received letters by Muhammad containing verses from the Qur'an.[51]

In 1936, translations in 102 languages were known.[51]

Robert of Ketton was the first person to translate the Qur'ān into a Western language, Latin, in 1143.[53] Alexander Ross offered the first English version in 1649. In 1734, George Sale produced the first scholarly translation of the Qur'ān into English; another was produced by Richard Bell in 1937, and yet another by Arthur John Arberry in 1955. All these translators were non-Muslims. There have been numerous translations by Muslims; the most popular of these are the translations by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al Hilali, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, M. H. Shakir, Muhammad Asad, and Marmaduke PickthallAhmed Raza Khan.

The English translators have sometimes favored archaic English words and constructions over their more modern or conventional equivalents; thus, for example, two widely-read translators, A. Yusuf Ali and M. Marmaduke Pickthall, use the plural and singular "ye" and "thou" instead of the more common "you." Another common stylistic decision has been to refrain from translating "Allah" — in Arabic, literally, "The God" — into the common English word "God." These choices may differ in more recent translations.


Main article: Tafsir
The Qur'ān has sparked a huge body of commentary and explication, known as Tafsir. This commentary is aimed at explaining the "meanings of the Qur'anic verses, clarifying their import and finding out their significance."[54]

Tafsir is one of the earliest academic activities of Muslims. According to the Qur'an, Muhammad was the first person who described the meanings of verses for early Muslims.[55] Other early exegetes included a few Companions of Muhammad, like Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Umar and Ubayy ibn Kab. Exegesis in those days was confined to the explanation of literary aspects of the verse, the background of its revelation and, occasionally, interpretation of one verse with the help of the other. If the verse was about a historical event, then sometimes a few traditions (hadith) of Muhammad were narrated to make its meaning clear. [56]

Because Qur'ān is spoken in the classical form of Arabic, many of the later converts to Islam, who happened to be mostly non-Arabs, did not always understand the Qur'ānic Arabic, they did not catch allusions that were clear to early Muslims fluent in Arabic and they were concerned with reconciling apparent conflict of themes in the Qur'an. Commentators erudite in Arabic explained the allusions, and perhaps most importantly, explained which Qur'anic verses had been revealed early in Muhammad's prophetic career, as being appropriate to the very earliest Muslim community, and which had been revealed later, canceling out or "abrogating" (nāsikh) the earlier text. Memories of the occasions of revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), the circumstances under which Muhammad had spoken as he did, were also collected, as they were believed to explain some apparent obscurities. Although the concept of abrogation does exist in the Qur'ān, Muslims differ in their interpretations of the word "Abrogation". Some believe that there are abrogations in the text of the Qur'ān and some insist that there are no contradictions or unclear passages to explain.

Relationship with other literature

The Torah and the Bible

Main article: Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an
The Qur'ān retells stories of many of the people and events recounted in Jewish and Christian sacred books (Tanakh, Bible) and devotional literature (Apocrypha, Midrash), although it differs in many details. Adam, Enoch, Noah, Heber, Shelah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Jethro, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Aaron, Moses, Ezra, Zechariah, Jesus, and John the Baptist are mentioned in the Qur'an as prophets of God (see Prophets of Islam). Muslims believe the common elements or resemblances between the Bible and other Jewish and Christian writings and Islamic dispensations is due to the common divine source, and that the Christian or Jewish texts were authentic divine revelations given to prophets. According to the Qur'ān
"It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).3:3 "
Muslims believe that those texts were neglected, corrupted (tahrif) or altered in time by the Jews and Christians and have been replaced by God's final and perfect revelation, which is the Qur'ān.[57] However, many Jews and Christians believe that the historical biblical archaeological record refutes this assertion, because the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Tanakh and other Jewish writings which predate the origin of the Qur'an) have been fully translated,[58] validating the authenticity of the Greek Septuagint.[59]

Influence of Christian apocrypha‎

The Diatessaron, Protoevangelium of James, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Arabic Infancy Gospel are all alleged to have been sources that the author/authors drew on when creating the Qur'ān. The Diatessaron especially may have led to the misconception in the Koran that the Christian Gospel is one text.[60] However this is strongly refuted by Muslim scholars, who maintain that Quran is the divine word of God without any interpolation, and the similarities exist only due to the one source.

Arab writing

After the Qur'an, and the general rise of Islam, the Arabic alphabet developed rapidly into a beautiful and complex form of art.[61]

Wadad Kadi, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago and Mustansir Mir, Professor of Islamic studies at Youngstown State University state that: [62]

Although Arabic, as a language and a literary tradition, was quite well developed by the time of Muhammad's prophetic activity, it was only after the emergence of Islam, with its founding scripture in Arabic, that the language reached its utmost capacity of expression, and the literature its highest point of complexity and sophistication. Indeed, it probably is no exaggeration to say that the Qur'an was one of the most conspicuous forces in the making of classical and post-classical Arabic literature.
The main areas in which the Qur'an exerted noticeable influence on Arabic literature are diction and themes; other areas are related to the literary aspects of the Qur'an particularly oaths (q.v.), metaphors, motifs, and symbols. As far as diction is concerned, one could say that qur'anic words, idioms, and expressions, especially "loaded" and formulaic phrases, appear in practically all genres of literature and in such abundance that it is simply impossible to compile a full record of them. For not only did the Qur'an create an entirely new linguistic corpus to express its message, it also endowed old, pre-Islamic words with new meanings and it is these meanings that took root in the language and subsequently in the literature...

Quranic Initials

14 different Arabic letters, form 14 different sets of “Quranic Initials” (the "Muqatta'at", such as A.L.M. of 2:1), and prefix 29 suras in the Quran. The meaning and interpretation of these initials is considered unknown to most Muslims. In 1974, an Egyptian biochemist named Rashad Khalifa claimed to have discovered a mathematical code based on the number 19[63], which is mentioned in Sura 74:30[64] of the Quran.

In culture

Most Muslims treat paper copies of the Qur'an with veneration, ritually washing before reading the Qur'an.[65] Worn out, torn, or errant (for example, pages out of order) Qur'ans are not discarded as wastepaper, but rather are left free to flow in a river, kept somewhere safe, burnt, or buried in a remote location.[66] Many Muslims memorize at least some portion of the Qur'an in the original Arabic, usually at least the verses needed to perform the prayers. Those who have memorized the entire Qur'an earn the right to the title of Hafiz.[67]

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Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, the monarch of Malaysia kissing the Quran at a ceremony where he was invested as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia in Balairung Seri, Istana Negara, Kuala Lumpur.

Based on tradition and a literal interpretation of sura 56:77-79: "That this is indeed a Qur'ān Most Honourable, In a Book well-guarded, Which none shall touch but those who are clean.", many scholars opine that a Muslim perform wudu (ablution or a ritual cleansing with water) before touching a copy of the Qur'ān, or mushaf. This view has been contended by other scholars on the fact that, according to Arabic linguistic rules, this verse alludes to a fact and does not comprise an order. The literal translation thus reads as "That (this) is indeed a noble Qur'ān, In a Book kept hidden, Which none toucheth save the purified," (translated by Mohamed Marmaduke Pickthall). It is suggested based on this translation that performing ablution is not required.

Qur'an desecration means insulting the Qur'ān by defiling or dismembering it. Muslims must always treat the book with reverence, and are forbidden, for instance, to pulp, recycle, or simply discard worn-out copies of the text. Respect for the written text of the Qur'ān is an important element of religious faith by many Muslims. They believe that intentionally insulting the Qur'ān is a form of blasphemy. In Islam, blasphemy is considered a sin. In the Qur'an, Allah says "He forgives all sins, except disbelieving in God (blasphemy)". In Islam if a person dies while in blasphemy, they will not enter heaven, except if said person repented before death.


The text of the Quran has become readily accessible over the internet, in Arabic as well as numerous translations in other languages. It can be downloaded and searched both word-by-word and with Boolean algebra. Photos of ancient manuscripts and illustrations of Quranic art can be witnessed. However, there are still limits to searching the Arabic text of the Quran.[68]


Main articles: Criticism of the Qur'an and

The Qur'an's teachings on matters of war and peace have become topics of heated discussion in recent years. Some critics allege that some verses of the Qur'an in their historical and literary context sanction military action against unbelievers as a whole both during the lifetime of Muhammad and after.[69][70] In response to this criticism, some Muslims argue that such verses of the Qur'an are taken out of context,[71][72][73] and claim that when the verses are read in context it clearly appears that the Qur'an prohibits aggression,[74][75][76] and allows fighting only in self defense.[77][78]

Some critics reject the Muslim belief regarding the divine origin of the Qur'an[79][80][81], and base their argument on the problems that they claim to exist in the Qur'ān, both textually and morally.[82][83]

Some critics have also commented on the arrangement of the Qur'anic text with accusations of lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order, and presence of repetition[84][85]. Others have praised the Quran's style as a book of divine guidance[86], and its eloquence has been described as near perfect by Dr. Francis Steingass due to the Quran's "ability to transform savage tribes into civilized nations."[87]

See also

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1. ^ Pronunciation: [qurˈʔaːn]
2. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 2, Verses 23-24
3. ^ Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World's Faiths, Mary Pat Fisher, 1997, page 338, I.B. Tauris Publishers,
4. ^ Qur'an, Chapter 17, Verse 106
5. ^ Qur'an, Chapter 33, Verse 40
6. ^ Watton, Victor, (1993), A student's approach to world religions:Islam, Hodder & Stoughton, pg 1. ISBN 0-340-58795-4
7. ^ Qur'ān Chapter 87, Verses 18-19
8. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 3, Verse 3
9. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 5, Verse 44
10. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 4, Verse 163
11. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 17, Verse 55
12. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 5, Verse 46
13. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 5, Verse 110
14. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 57, Verse 27
15. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 3, Verse 84
16. ^ Quran, Chapter 4, Verse 136
17. ^ "The Qur'an assumes the reader to be familiar with the traditions of the ancestors since the age of the Patriarchs, not necessarily in the version of the "Children of Israel" as described in the Bible but also in the version of the "Children of Ismail" as it was alive orally, though interspersed with polytheist elements, at the time of Muhammad. The term Jahiliya (ignorance) used for the pre-Islamic time does not mean that the Arabs were not familiar with their traditional roots but that their knowledge of ethical and spiritual values had been lost." Exegesis of Bible and Qur'an, H. Krausen. [1]
18. ^ Qur'ān, Chapter 15, Verse 9
19. ^ Qur'ān Chapter 5, Verse 46
20. ^ However, the Quran in a single manuscript form was only made during the reign of the Caliph Othman who ordered the production of several copies.Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 201
21. ^ "Ķur'an, al-", Encyclopedia of Islam Online.
22. ^ Qur'an 75:17
23. ^ cf. Qur'an 20:2; 25:32
24. ^ Qur'an 7:204
25. ^ See:
  • "Ķur'an, al-", Encyclopedia of Islam Online.
  • Qur'an 9:111
    26. ^ According to Welch in the Encyclopedia of Islam, the verses pertaining to the usage of the word hikma "should probably be interpreted in the light of IV, 105, where it is said that "Muhammad is to judge (tahkum) mankind on the basis of the Book sent down to him."
    27. ^ Arabic: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم, transliterated as: bismi-llāhi ar-raḥmāni ar-raḥīmi. an Arabic phrase meaning ("In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful"), with the exception of the ninth chapter. There are, however, still 114 occurrences of the basmala in the Qur'an, due to its presence in verse 27:30 as the opening of Solomon's letter to the Queen of Sheba. cf. Encyclopedia of  Islam, "Kur`an, al-"
    28. ^ See:
    • "Kur`an, al-", Encyclopedia of Islam Online
    • Allen (2000) p. 53

    29. ^ Issa Boullata, "Literary Structure of Qur'an," ''Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, vol.3 p.192, 204
    30. ^ [2]
    31. ^ Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur'an (White Cloud Press, 1999), and Norman O. Brown, "The Apocalypse of Islam." Social Text 3:8 (1983-1984)
    32. ^ Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur'an (White Cloud Press, 1999)
    33. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam online, Muhammad article
    34. ^ AL-BAQARA. 2:285 Muslim texts. Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
    35. ^ See also [3] for an extended account incorporating further sources
    36. ^ Mohamad K. Yusuff, Zayd ibn Thabit and the Glorious Qur’an
    37. ^ The Koran; A Very Short Introduction, Michael Cook. Oxford University Press, P.117 - P.124
    38. ^ AL-BAQARA. USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim texts. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
    39. ^ Sonn, Tamara (2006), "Art and the Qur'an", in Leaman, Oliver, The Qur'an: an encyclopedia, Great Britain: Routeledge, pp. 71-81
    40. ^ Navid Kermani, Das ästhetische Erleben des Koran. Munich (1999)
    41. ^ Malik Ibn Anas, Muwatta, vol. 1 (Egypt: Dar Ahya al-Turath, n.d.), 201, (no. 473).
    42. ^ Suyuti, Tanwir al-Hawalik, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dar al-Jayl, 1993), 199.
    43. ^ Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. Mizan, Principles of Understanding the Qu'ran, Al-Mawrid
    44. ^ Zarkashi, al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qur'ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1980), 237.
    45. ^ Suyuti, al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur'ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Baydar: Manshurat al-Radi, 1343 AH), 177.
    46. ^ E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon
    47. ^ The Qur'an in Manuscript and Print. THE QUR'ANIC SCRIPT. Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
    48. ^ Article by A. Yusuf Ali. The Holy Qur'an. Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
    49. ^ Unicode Qur'an. Sacred-texts. Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
    50. ^ Mishafi Font. Award-winning calligraphic typeface. Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
    51. ^ Fatani, Afnan (2006), "Translation and the Qur'an", in Leaman, Oliver, The Qur'an: an encyclopedia, Great Britain: Routeledge, pp. 657-669
    52. ^ An-Nawawi, Al-Majmu', (Cairo, Matbacat at-'Tadamun n.d.), 380.
    53. ^ (2002) Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 42. 
    54. ^ Preface of Al'-Mizan, reference is to Allameh Tabatabaei
    55. ^ 2:151
    56. ^ [4]
    57. ^ Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8. p.69
    58. ^ The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English (2002) HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-060064-0
    59. ^ [5]
    60. ^ On pre-Islamic Christian strophic poetical tests in the Koran, Ibn Rawandi, ISBN 1-57392-945-X
    61. ^ Leaman, Oliver (2006), "Cyberspace and the Quran", in Leaman, Oliver, The Qur'an: an encyclopedia, Great Britain: Routeledge, pp. 130-135
    62. ^ Wadad Kadi and Mustansir Mir, Literature and the Qur'an, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, vol. 3, pp. 213, 216
    63. ^ Rashad Khalifa, Quran: Visual Presentation of the Miracle, Islamic Productions International, 1982. ISBN 0-934894-30-2
    64. ^ Qur'an, Chapter 74, Verse 30
    65. ^ Mahfouz (2006), p.35
    66. ^ The Permanent Committee of Research & Islamic Rulings Of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.. How is a torn Mushaf (Qur'an) disposed of?. Retrieved on 2007-04-18.
    67. ^ Kugle (2006), p.47; Esposito (2000a), p.275
    68. ^ Rippin, Andrew (2006), "Cyberspace and the Quran", in Leaman, Oliver, The Qur'an: an encyclopedia, Great Britain: Routeledge, pp. 159-163
    69. ^ Robert Spencer. Onward Muslim Soldiers, page 121.
    70. ^ Syed Kamran Mirza What is Islamic Terrorism and How could it be Defeated?
    71. ^ Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" Page 413. Published by The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement [6]
    72. ^ Sohail H. Hashmi, David Miller, Boundaries and Justice: diverse ethical perspectives, Princeton University Press, p.197
    73. ^ Khaleel Muhammad, professor of religious studies at San Diego State University, states, regarding his discussion with the critic Robert Spencer, that "when I am told ... that Jihad only means war, or that I have to accept interpretations of the Quran that non-Muslims (with no good intentions or knowledge of Islam) seek to force upon me, I see a certain agendum developing: one that is based on hate, and I refuse to be part of such an intellectual crime." [7]
    74. ^ Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" Page 414 "When shall war cease". Published by The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement [8]
    75. ^ Sadr-u-Din, Maulvi. "Quran and War", page 8. Published by The Muslim Book Society, Lahore, Pakistan. [9]
    76. ^ Article on Jihad by Dr. G. W. Leitner (founder of The Oriental Institute, UK) published in Asiatic Quarterly Review, 1886. ("jihad, even when explained as a righteous effort of waging war in self defense against the grossest outrage on one's religion, is strictly limited..")
    77. ^ The Quranic Commandments Regarding War/Jihad An English rendering of an Urdu article appearing in Basharat-e-Ahmadiyya Vol. I, p. 228-232, by Dr. Basharat Ahmad; published by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam
    78. ^ Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" Pages 411-413. Published by The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement [10]
    79. ^ Koran, by Gabriel Oussani, The Catholic Encyclopedia, retrieved April 13, 2006
    80. ^ Patricia Crone, Michael Cook, and Gerd R. Puin as quoted in Toby Lester. "What Is the Koran?", The Atlantic Monthly, January 1999. 
    81. ^ Jewish Encyclpoedia: comp. also xvi. 70
    82. ^ The Encyclopedia of Religion, By Mircea Eliade. Volum 12 pg. 165-6, pub. 1987 ISBN 0-02-909700-2
    83. ^ Robert Spencer. Onward Muslim Soldiers,
    84. ^ Samuel Pepys: "One feels it difficult to see how any mortal ever could consider this Koran as a Book written in Heaven, too good for the Earth; as a well-written book, or indeed as a book at all; and not a bewildered rhapsody; written, so far as writing goes, as badly as almost any book ever was!" [11]
    85. ^ "The final process of collection and codification of the Qur'an text was guided by one over-arching principle: God's words must not in any way be distorted or sullied by human intervention. For this reason, no serious attempt, apparently, was made to edit the numerous revelations, organize them into thematic units, or present them in chronological order.... This has given rise in the past to a great deal of criticism by European and American scholars of Islam, who find the Qur'an disorganized, repetitive, and very difficult to read." Approaches to the Asian Classics, Irene Blomm, William Theodore De Bary, Columbia University Press,1990, p. 65
    86. ^ The New Approach to the Study of the Quran, Dr. hasanuddin Ahmed, 2004, page 13, Goodword books, Quote:"Its style, in accordance with its contents and aim, is stern, grand, forcible - ever and anon truly sublime...It soon attracts, astounds, and in the end enforces our reverence"
    87. ^ The "Dictionary of Islam" by Thomas Patrick Hughes, p 528 Quote: "its eloquence was perfect, simply because it created a civilized nation out of savage tribes, and shot a fresh woof into the old warp of history."


  • Allen, Roger (2000). An Introduction to Arabic literature. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521776570. 
  • Esposito, John; Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad (2000). Muslims on the Americanization Path?. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513526-1. 
  • Esposito, John (2002). What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515713-3. 
  • Kugle, Scott Alan (2006). Rebel Between Spirit And Law: Ahmad Zarruq, Sainthood, And Authority in Islam. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253347114. 
  • Mahfouz, Tarek (2006). Speak Arabic Instantly. Lulu Press, Inc.. ISBN 1847289002. 
  • Molloy, Michael (2006). Experiencing the World's Religions, 4th, McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0073535647. 

Further reading

Older commentary
  • al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir -- Jami' al-bayān `an ta'wil al-Qur'ān, Cairo 1955-69, transl. J. Cooper (ed.), The Commentary on the Qur'an, Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-19-920142-0
  • Tafsir Ibn-Kathir, Hafiz Imad al-din Abu al-Fida Ismail ibn Kathir al-Damishqi al-Shafi'i - (died 774 Hijrah (Islamic Calendar))
  • Tafsir Al-Qurtubi (Al-Jami'li-Ahkam), Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad Abi Bakr ibn Farah al-Qurtubi - (died 671 Hijrah (Islamic Calendar))
Older scholarship
Recent scholarship
  • Al-Azami, M. M. -- The History of the Qur'anic Text from Revelation to Compilation, UK Islamic Academy: Leicester 2003.
  • Gunter Luling A challenge to Islam for reformation: the rediscovery and reliable reconstruction of a comprehensive pre-Islamic Christian hymnal hidden in the Koran under earliest Islamic reinterpretations. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers 2003. (580 Seiten, lieferbar per Seepost). ISBN 81-2081952-7
  • Luxenberg, Christoph (2004) -- The Syro-Aramaic Reading Of The Koran: a contribution to the decoding of the language of the Qur'an, Berlin, Verlag Hans Schiler, 1 May 2007 ISBN 3-89930-088-2
  • McAuliffe, Jane Damen -- Quranic Christians : An Analysis of Classical and Modern Exegesis, Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-521-36470-1
  • McAuliffe, Jane Damen (ed.) -- Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, Brill, 2002-2004.
  • Puin, Gerd R. -- "Observations on Early Qur'an Manuscripts in Sana'a," in The Qur'an as Text, ed. Stefan Wild, , E.J. Brill 1996, pp. 107-111 (as reprinted in What the Koran Really Says, ed. Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 2002)
  • Rahman, Fazlur -- Major Themes in the Qur'an, Bibliotheca Islamica, 1989. ISBN 0-88297-046-1
  • Louay M. Safi -- Quranic Themes
  • Robinson, Neal, Discovering the Qur'an, Georgetown University Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58901-024-8
  • Sells, Michael, -- Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations, White Cloud Press, Book & CD edition (November 15, 1999). ISBN 1-883991-26-9
  • Stowasser, Barbara Freyer -- Women in the Qur'an, Traditions, and Interpretation, Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (June 1, 1996), ISBN 0-19-511148-6
  • Wansbrough, John -- Quranic Studies, Oxford University Press, 1977
  • Watt, W. M., and R. Bell, Introduction to the Qur'an, Edinburgh University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7486-0597-5

External links


A Mus'haf (Arabic: مصحف, pronounced "Mus-haf" not "Mu-sh-af") The word refers to a "codex" or a collection of sheets (Sahifa, see below).
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Sura (sometimes spelt "Surah" سورة sūrah
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Ayah (آية ʾāyatun, plural Ayat
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Qur'an reading is the reading (tarteel, tajwid, or taghbir) aloud, reciting, or chanting of portions of the Qur'an.
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Tajwīd (تجويد) is an Arabic word meaning proper pronunciation during recitation, as well as recitation at a moderate speed. It is a set of rules which govern how the Qur'an should be read.
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Tarteel (Arabic: ترتيل) is an Arabic term that is wide in meaning but is commonly translated in reference to the Qur'an as "recitation.
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Manzil (Arabic: منزل; plural manazil, منازل) is the Arabic word for one of seven parts of roughly equal length into which the Qur'an is divided for the
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A juz' (Arabic: جزء, plural اجزاء ajza' ) literally means "part.
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Hizb (Arabic: حزب, plural احزاب ahzab) may stand for:

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Hafith or Hafiz (Arabic: حافظ قرآن or حافظ, plural huffaz
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Qari' (plural qurra'), literally meaning "reader", is a person who recites the Qur'an with the proper rules of recitation (tajweed).
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Rasm is an Arabic term that signifies: drawing, sketch, trace, graph, pictures, outline, pattern, mark, notes, design, regulation, form, rate. When speaking of the Qur'an it stands for the basic 18 letters used in early manuscripts, i.e.
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Translations of the Qur'án are interpretations of the holy book of Islam in languages other than Arabic. Even though translating the Qur'an has been a difficult concept, both theologically and linguistically, Islam's scriptures have been translated into most African, Asian and
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Translations of the Qur'an

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The study of the origins and development of the Qur’an can be said to fall into two major schools of thought, the first being a traditionalist Muslim pious view which argues that the Qur'an is a religious text
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The Madinan suras of the Qur'an are those suras which were revealed at Madina, after Muhammad's hijra from Mecca, when the Muslims were establishing a state rather than being, as at Mecca, an oppressed minority.
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The Meccan suras are the chronologically earlier suras of the Qur'an that were revealed at Mecca. They are typically shorter, with relatively short ayat, and mostly come near the end of the Qur'an.
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A tafsir ( (Arabic: تفسير) tafsīr, Arabic "interpretation") is Qur'anic exegesis or commentary.
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A'as ibn Wa'il is the father of Amr ibn al-A'as.
Entire chapter [3]

Banu Sahm

A sub-clan of the Quraish tribe.


"Engage (your) vying in exuberance, until ye come to the graves." [2].

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Islamic Justice, truth-telling, various virtues and sins the prohibition of perjury in the Qur'an are repeated many times:


  • And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way e.g.

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Asbāb al-nuzūl اسباب النزول, an Arabic term meaning "occasions/circumstances of revelation", is a secondary genre of Qur'ānic
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Naskh, an Arabic language word usually translated as " abrogation " and alternately appearing as the phrase al-nāsikh wal-mansūkh
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Tahrif (Arabic: تحريف "corruption, forgery"; the stem-II verbal noun of the consonantal root
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Bakkah (Arabic: بكة) is a place mentioned in surah 3:96 of the Qur'an.
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Muqatta`at (Arabic: مقطعات, literally "abbreviated", translated as "abbreviated letters", also called Fawatih (
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An esoteric interpretation of the Qur'an is an interpretation of the Qur’an which includes attribution of esoteric or mystic meanings to the text by the interpreter.
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Qur'an and Sunnah is an often quoted Islamic term regarding the sources of Islam.

Muslims hold that Islam is derived from two sources: one being infallible and containing compressed information — the Qur'an
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Qur'anic literalism is the belief that the verses of the Qur'an should be taken at their apparent meaning, rather than employing any sort of interpretation.
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This article or section is currently being developed or reviewed.
Some statements may be disputed, incorrect, , biased or otherwise objectionable. Please read the discussion on the before making substantial changes.
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Female figures in the Qur'an are important characters and subjects of discussion in the stories and morals taught in Islam. Some of the women in the Qu'ran, its holy book, are portrayed in a positive light, while others are condemned for their actions.
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