Please tell us a little more about the
Holy Quran which you have mentioned and quoted throughout this booklet while explaining
the teachings of Islam.
The Holy Quran is the scripture of the Muslims. It is the
word of God as communicated to the Holy Prophet Muhammad on a number of different
occasions from the time God made him a Prophet, when he was 40 years of age, till his
death (during the years 609-632 C.E.). All these revelations, received at various times
over this period of 23 years, were arranged in a set order by the Holy Prophet, and they
make up the Holy Quran.
How did God communicate His messages and
words to the Holy Prophet?
God's messages are not conveyed by sound which can be heard
by the human ear, but can only be received by the inner, 'spiritual' senses possessed by
all human beings. In Prophets of God these senses are extremely sharp and very highly
developed, and therefore they can receive clear communications from God.
In the physical world, we find that messages have to be
carried by various media, such as the air which carries sound, or radio waves which carry
radio and television signals. Similarly the word of God is brought to the Prophet through
the spiritual beings called angels. (See the earlier section dealing with Angels.)
The revelations in the Holy Quran were brought to the Holy
Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel in the form of clear words of the Arabic language.
(According to Muslim belief, God spoke to all the other Prophets, such as Moses and Jesus,
in the same manner in their languages.)
How did the Holy Quran come down to us?
It was by the following stages:
- During the Holy Prophet's life, whenever a revelation came
to him, he would proclaim it to people, then many of his followers would learn it by
heart, and it would also be put into writing at the same time. As the Holy Quran was
recited aloud in public prayers, and also read frequently at other times, every Muslim was
quite familiar with its contents, and many knew it completely by heart.
- About six months after the Holy Prophet's death, which took
place in 632 C.E., work was undertaken to collect a complete copy of the Quran consisting
of all the writings made in the Holy Prophet's presence. This was done on the instructions
of the first ruler of the Muslims, Abu Bakr, and with the help of the scribes and the
Companions of the Holy Prophet. In this way, a master copy of the Quran was collected.
- Some 15 years later, when Muslim rule had spread far and
wide, the third ruler of the Muslims after the Holy Prophet, called Uthman, ordered
further copies to be transcribed from this master copy. These copies were sent to the big
cities of the then Muslim world to be kept as standard copies. Muslims also kept up the
practice of memorizing parts of the Holy Book, many learning the whole of it by heart. In
this way, the Holy Quran was passed down the ages, in both written and oral form,
remaining intact in its original form. Because the Quran was recited aloud everyday in
public prayers and gatherings, everyone recognized the same Quran.
Do all Muslims have the same Quran,
Yes. Because of the reasons given above, the text of the
Muslim Scripture has been preserved in its original purity. In fact, God had given a
promise in the Quran itself that He would Himself guard this Holy Book:
"Surely We have revealed the Reminder (the Quran), and
surely We are its Guardian." (15:9)
All Muslims, whatever their sect, country or language, have
always had exactly the same Arabic Quran, just as it was in the Holy Prophet Muhammad's
time. No two copies of the Holy Quran anywhere in the world differ in any way.
Please mention some features of the Holy
Quran which give it a unique place among the scriptures of the world.
As regards just the text of the Holy Quran, it has the
following distinctions not found in the case of any other scripture:
- As mentioned above, the Holy Quran has not undergone any
loss or alteration since it first came into the world so many centuries ago, and all the
followers of Islam have the same Quran.
- The Holy Quran is still available to us today in the
original language in which it was revealed.
- Arabic, the language of the Holy Quran, is still a living
language spoken and written by over 100 million people, and has changed very little over
the centuries. Therefore, any person today can learn it like any other modern language,
and read and understand the Holy Quran directly.
- The history of the revelation and the collection of the Holy
Quran is known fully and clearly, not being shrouded in mystery or uncertainty.
We should add briefly, without being disrespectful, that
other scriptures have suffered much loss and alteration in the course of history. Their
original languages have died out, so that only a few specialist scholars have the
knowledge to study the text directly, and even they are unsure of the meanings of many
words in the translations they have produced. The origin and history of these scriptures
is largely unknown, and no reliable information is available about their authors or
persons to whom they were revealed.
Is there any other notable distinction
of the Holy Quran?
One that may be mentioned is that the Holy Quran tells us
all about itself. From various places in it we learn that it is a Book called the Quran, a
revelation from God, communicated to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, coming through the angel
Gabriel, in the Arabic language. The Quran also tells us that it has been revealed in
portions, not all at once, and that the first revelation came to the Holy Prophet in the
month of Ramadaan.
The Holy Quran refers to itself by several names which show
its qualities and the work it came to do. For instance, al-furqan: which
distinguishes between right and wrong, al-Hakim: full of wisdom, al-nur: the
Light, al-huda: the guidance, etc.
The unique features mentioned here and in the answer to the
last question concern just the text of the Holy Book. There are many distinctive points
about the Holy Quran as regards its teachings, and these will be found throughout this
How is the Holy Quran divided?
So far as the subject matter is concerned, it is divided
into 114 chapters. Each chapter, called a Sura in Arabic, consists of a number of
verses, each verse being called an Ayat. Some chapters were wholly or largely
revealed to the Holy Prophet during the first 13 years of his mission when he lived in
Makka, and the rest after his emigration to the city of Madina. Chapters generally
revealed at Makka are called Makki, and those revealed at Madina are called Madani.
While the chapters are of varying lengths, the Holy Quran is also divided into 30 almost
equal parts, each part being known as a juz (or separa in Urdu and Persian).
This division is simply to enable a reader to complete a reading of the Holy Book in one
Is the Holy Quran arranged in order of
the sequence in which its various passages were revealed to the Holy Prophet?
No. In fact the very first revelation which came to the
Holy Prophet is actually to be found in chapter 96, not far from the end of the Holy
Quran. The order in which various passages or chapters were revealed is not of any
importance, especially to people after the Holy Prophet's time, because the Quran is a
complete, consistent book. A verse is just as important and significant no matter when it
It is said that the Holy Quran is not
arranged in an orderly form, but deals with various subjects in a disorganized manner.
Please comment on this.
This is not correct. It is true that the Quran does not
cover topic after topic in a set sequence, but this does not mean that it has no
arrangement. The Holy Quran is not really a book of laws or commandments on various
subjects, but a book meant to guide man and convince him of the truth. Its basic theme is
the greatness of God, that man's aim in life should be to acquire nearness to Him, and
that his actions, good or bad, will always bear fruit according to what they are. All the
topics the Quran deals with are built around this basic message which is the real point
being stressed all the time.
Is there an arrangement of topics in the
Yes, there is, and for full details the English translation
of the Holy Quran with commentary by the late Maulana Muhammad Ali should be consulted.
Here we may briefly point out that the Holy Book begins with the famous short chapter, the
Fatiha, which is a sort of preface summarizing the entire Quran and its teachings
in seven verses. This is followed by a long chapter which begins by stating the
fundamental teachings of Islam, and goes on to show why a new religion was necessary at
this time, and how the followers of previous religions had gone astray. This and the next
few chapters then deal in detail with Islamic teachings. Very often in the Quran, chapters
revealed at Makka, containing prophecies about the success of Islam, are followed by
chapters revealed at Madina showing how those prophecies were being fulfilled. There is,
thus, a clear arrangement of the subjectmatter in the Holy Quran.
What sort of subjects does the Holy
Quran deal with?
An enormous range of topics. It tells us about God, His
attributes, man's position in the universe, his aim in life and how to attain that aim,
how we stand in relation to God and to our fellow-beings. It gives details of what one
should believe and how it should be put into practice. The next life is described in it in
full. Histories of previous nations and their prophets, as well as many events from the
life of the Holy Prophet himself, are also given in the Quran. It gives arguments to
disprove false beliefs of all kinds, and answers all sorts of questions and objections
raised about its teachings and about the Holy Prophet. Guidance, laws and regulations on
everyday subjects such as family life, business dealings, the law, war and peace, women's
rights, hygiene, government and democracy, etc., is also to be found in the Holy Book.
When dealing with any topic, the Holy Quran gives reasons, arguments and evidence to
support its teachings, and it challenges those who disagree with it to produce proof of
Does the Holy Quran give any evidence to
back up its claim that it is the word of God, and not the thoughts of a man?
Yes indeed. The Quran does not want a person to accept
anything without reason and proof. The evidence it provides on this point is as follows:
- The Holy Quran contains such grand principles and deep
points of knowledge as could not have been known to any person in the seventh century,
when it was revealed. They certainly could not have been known to, or discovered by, a man
like Muhammad (peace be upon him) who could not read or write, and lived in a country
which was very backward and cut off from the civilization of the time.
- The Holy Quran's moral teaching brought about a complete and
astonishing change for the good in the people of a whole country, a reform which appeared
impossible to do through human teachings.
- Prophecies in the Holy Quran that the Holy Prophet Muhammad
shall be triumphant over his opponents, made at a time when he hardly had any followers or
friends, all came true in a short period of time. And many prophecies in the Quran about
the distant future have come true in modern times.
- The language and literary style of the Holy Quran was so
excellent that the Holy Prophet's opponents, who included great poets and masters of the
Arabic language, could not match it even though they had been challenged to do it.
For all these reasons, the Quran has thrown a challenge,
standing open for all time, to those who think it is not the word of God, to produce a
writing like it even one chapter long.
What position does the Holy Quran hold
The Holy Quran is the final and highest authority for
Muslims on all matters. It is the fundamental source of the teachings of Islam. When
determining whether a certain belief or practice is a part of Islam or not, the verdict of
the Quran has the highest priority and must be accepted even if it goes against common
practice or one's own wishes. If a Muslim differs with us regarding the meaning of a verse
of the Quran, we must still respect his views if he gives arguments from the Holy Book in