The Qur’an (IPA: /kɒˈrɑːn/ kor-AHN; Arabic: القرآن al-qur’ān, IPA: [qurˈʔaːn], literally “the recitation”) is the religious text of Islam, also sometimes transliterated as Quran, Kuran, Koran, Qur’ān, Coran or al-Qur’ān. It is widely regarded as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language. Muslims hold that the Qur’an is the verbal divine guidance and moral direction for mankind. Muslims also consider the original Arabic verbal text to be the final revelation of God.
Muslims believe that the Qur’an was repeatedly revealed from Allah to Muhammad verbally through the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel) over a period of approximately twenty-three years, beginning in 610 CE, when he was forty, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. Followers of Islam further believe that the Qur’an was memorized, recited and written down by Muhammad's companions after every revelation dictated by Muhammad. Most of Muhammad's tens of thousands of companions, called Sahabas, learned the Qur’an by heart, repeatedly recited in front of Muhammad for his approval or the approval of other Sahabas. Muslim tradition agrees that although the Qur’an was authentically memorized completely by tens of thousands verbally, the Qur’an was still established textually into a single book form shortly after Muhammad's death by order of the first Caliph Abu Bakr suggested by his future successor Umar. Hafsa, Muhammad's widow and Umar's daughter, was entrusted with that Quran text after the second Caliph Umar died. When Uthman, the third Caliph, started noticing slight differences in the Arabic dialect; he requested Hafsa to allow him to use the Qur’an text in her possession to be set as the standard dialect, the Quraish dialect aka Fus'ha (Modern Standard Arabic). Before returning that Qur'an text to Hafsa; Uthman immediately made several thousands of copies of Abu Bakar's Qur’anic compilation and ordered all other texts to be burned. This process of formalization of the orally transmitted text to Abu Bakar's Qur'anic text is known as the "Uthmanic recension". The present form of the Qur’an text is accepted by most scholars as the original version compiled by Abu Bakr.
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Muslims regard the Qur’an as the main miracle of Muhammad, as proof of his prophethood, and as the culmination of a series of divine messages. These started, according to Islamic belief, with the messages revealed to Adam, regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Suhuf Ibrahim (Scrolls of Abraham), the Tawrat (Torah or Pentateuch) of Moses, the Zabur (Tehillim or Book of Psalms) of David, and the Injil (Gospel) of Jesus. The Qur'an assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in Jewish and Christian scriptures, summarizing some, dwelling at length on others, and, in some cases, presenting alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Qur'an describes itself as a book of guidance, sometimes offering detailed accounts of specific historical events, and often emphasizing the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence.
- 1 Etymology and meaning
- 2 History
- 3 Significance in Islam
- 4 Text
- 5 Interpretation and meanings
- 6 Literary usage
- 7 Relationship with other literature
- 8 Culture
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 External links
Etymology and meaning[edit | edit source]
The word qur`ān appears about 70 times in the Qur’an itself, assuming various meanings. It is a verbal noun (maṣdar) of the Arabic verb qara`a (Arabic: قرأ), meaning “he read” or “he recited.” The Syriac equivalent is 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. In any case, it had become an Arabic term by Muhammad's lifetime. An important meaning of the word is the “act of reciting”, as reflected in an early Qur’anic passage: “It is for Us to collect it and to recite it (qur`ānahu)”.
In other verses, the word 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” (wahy), that which has been “sent down” (tanzīl) at intervals. Its liturgical context is seen in a number of passages, for example: "So when al-qur`ān is recited, listen to it and keep silent". The word may also assume the meaning of a codified scripture when mentioned with other scriptures such as the Torah and Gospel.
The term also has closely related synonyms that are employed throughout the Qur’an. Each synonym possesses its own distinct meaning, but its 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.
The Qur’an has many other names. Among those found in the text itself are al-furqan (“discernment” or “criterion”), al-huda (“"the guide”), dhikrallah (“the remembrance of God”), al-hikmah (“the wisdom”), and kalamallah (“the word of God”). Another term is al-kitāb (“the book”), though it is also used in the Arabic language for other scriptures, such as the Torah and the Gospels. The term mus'haf ("written work") is often used to refer to particular Qur'anic manuscripts but is also used in the Qur’an to identify earlier revealed books.
History[edit | edit source]
Prophetic era[edit | edit source]
- See also: Wahy
Islamic tradition relates that during one of Muhammad's isolated retreats to the mountains, he received his first revelation in the Cave of Hira. Thereafter, he received revelations over a period of twenty-three years. According to hadith and Muslim history, after Muhammad emigrated to Medina and formed an independent Muslim community, he ordered a considerable number of the companions (sahaba) to recite the Qur’an and to learn and teach the laws, which were revealed daily. Companions who engaged in the recitation of the Qur’an were called qurra'. Since most sahaba were unable to read or write, they were ordered to learn from the prisoners-of-war the simple writing of the time. Thus a group of sahaba gradually became literate. As it was initially spoken, the Qur’an was recorded on tablets, bones and the wide, flat ends of date palm fronds. Most chapters were in use amongst early Muslims since they are mentioned in numerous sayings by both Sunni and Shia sources, relating Muhammad's use of the Qur'an as a call to Islam, the making of prayer and the manner of recitation. However, the Qur’an did not exist in book form at the time of Muhammad's death in 632.
Welch, a scholar of Islamic studies, states in the Encyclopaedia of Islam that he believes the graphic descriptions of Muhammad's condition at these moments may be regarded as genuine, because he was severely disturbed after these revelations. According to Welch, these seizures would have been seen by those around him as convincing evidence for the superhuman origin of Muhammad's inspirations. Muhammad's critics, however, accused him of being a possessed man, a soothsayer or a magician since his experiences were similar to those claimed by such 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.
Compiling the Mus'haf[edit | edit source]
According to Shias, Sufis and scarce Sunni scholars, Ali compiled a complete version of the Qur’an mus'haf  immediately after Muhammad's death. The order of this mus'haf differed from that gathered later during Uthman's era. Despite this, Ali made no objection or resistance against standardized mus'haf, but kept his own book.
After seventy reciters were killed in the Battle of Yamama, the caliph Abu Bakr decided to collect the different chapters and verses into one volume. Thus, a group of reciters, including Zayd ibn Thabit, collected the chapters and verses and produced several hand-written copies of the complete book.
In about 650, as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian peninsula into Persia, the Levant and North Africa, the third caliph Uthman ibn Affan ordered the preparation of an official, standardized version, to preserve the sanctity of the text (and perhaps to keep the Rashidun Empire united, see Uthman Qur'an). Five reciters from amongst the companions produced a unique text from the first volume, which had been prepared on the orders of Abu Bakr and was kept with Hafsa bint Umar. The other copies already in the hands of Muslims in other areas were collected and sent to Medina where, on orders of the Caliph, they were destroyed by burning or boiling. This remains the authoritative text of the Qur’an to this day.
The Qur’an in its present form is generally considered by academic scholars to record the words spoken by Muhammad because the search for variants in Western academia has not yielded any differences of great significance and because, historically, controversy over the content of the Qur’an has never become a main point.
Significance in Islam[edit | edit source]
Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for humanity and consider the text in its original Arabic to be the literal word of God, revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years and view the Qur’an as God's final revelation to humanity.
Wahy in Islamic and Qur’anic concept means the act of God addressing an individual, conveying a message for a greater number of recipients. The process by which the divine message comes to the heart of a messenger of God is tanzil (to send down) or nuzul (to come down). As the Qur'an says, "With the truth we (God) have sent it down and with the truth it has come down." It designates positive religion, the letter of the revelation dictated by the angel to the prophet. It means to cause this revelation to descend from the higher world. According to hadith, the verses were sent down in special circumstances known as asbab al-nuzul. However, in this view God himself is never the subject of coming down.
The Qur'an frequently asserts in its text that it is divinely ordained, an assertion that Muslims believe. The Qur'an — often referring to its own textual nature and reflecting constantly on its divine origin — is the most meta-textual, self-referential religious text. The Qur'an refers to a written pre-text that records God's speech even before it was sent down.
The issue of whether the Qur'an is eternal or created was one of the crucial controversies among early Muslim theologians. Mu'tazilis believe it is created while the most widespread varieties of Muslim theologians consider the Qur'an to be eternal and uncreated. Sufi philosophers view the question as artificial or wrongly framed.
Muslims maintain the present wording of the Qur'anic text corresponds exactly to that revealed to Muhammad himself: as the words of God, said to be delivered to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Muslims consider the Qur'an to be a guide, a sign of the prophethood of Muhammad and the truth of the religion. They argue it is not possible for a human to produce a book like the Qur'an, as the Qur'an itself maintains.
Therefore an Islamic philosopher introduces a prophetology to explain how the divine word passes into human expression. This leads to a kind of esoteric hermeneutics that seeks to comprehend the position of the prophet by mediating on the modality of his relationship not with his own time, but with the eternal source his message emanates from. This view contrasts with historical critique of western scholars who attempt to understand the prophet through his circumstances, education and type of genius.
Uniqueness[edit | edit source]
- See also: Qur'an and miracles
Muslims believe that the Qur'an is different from all other books in ways that are impossible for any other book to be, such that similar texts cannot be written by humans. These include both mundane and miraculous claims. The Qur’an itself challenges any who disagree with its divine origin to produce a text of a miraculous nature.
Scholars of Islam believe that its poetic form is unique and of a fashion that cannot be written by humans. They also claim it contains accurate prophecy and that no other book does.
Text[edit | edit source]
The text of the Qur’an consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura. Chapters are classed as Meccan or Medinan, depending on when (before or after Hijra) the verses were revealed. Chapter titles are derived from a name or quality discussed in the text, or from the first letters or words of the sura. Muslims believe that Muhammad, on God's command, gave the chapters their names. Generally, longer chapters appear earlier in the Qur’an, while the shorter ones appear later. The chapter arrangement is thus not connected to the sequence of revelation. Each sura except the ninth starts with the Basmala, an Arabic phrase meaning (“In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”). 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.
Each sura is formed from several ayat (verses), which originally means a sign or portent sent by God. The number of verses differ from chapter to chapter. An individual verse may be just a few letters or several lines. The verses are unlike the highly refined poetry of the pre-Islamic Arabs in their content and distinctive rhymes and rhythms, being more akin to the prophetic utterances marked by inspired discontinuities found in the sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. The actual number of ayat has been a controversial issue among Muslim scholars since Islam's inception, some recognizing 6,000, some 6,204, some 6,219, and some 6,236, although the words in all cases are the same. The most popular edition of the Qur’an, which is based on the Kufa school tradition, contains 6,236 ayat.
There is a crosscutting division into 30 parts of roughly equal division, ajza, each containing two units called ahzab, each of which is divided into four parts (rub 'al-ahzab). The Qur’an is also divided into seven approximately equal parts, manazil, for it to be recited in a week.
The Qur’anic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its nonlinear structure being akin to a web or net. The textual arrangement is sometimes considered to have lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order, and presence of repetition.
Fourteen different Arabic letters form 14 different sets of “Qur’anic Initials” (the "Muqatta'at", such as A.L.M. of 2:1) and prefix 29 suras in the Qur’an. The meaning and interpretation of these initials is considered unknown to most Muslims. In 1974, Egyptian biochemist Rashad Khalifa claimed to have discovered a mathematical code based on the number 19, which is mentioned in Sura 74:30 of the Qur’an.
Content[edit | edit source]
The Qur'anic verses contain general exhortations regarding right and wrong and the nature of revelation. Historical events are related to outline general moral lessons.
Literary structure[edit | edit source]
The Qur’an's message is conveyed with various literary structures and devices. In the original Arabic, the chapters and verses employ phonetic and thematic structures that assist the audience's efforts to recall the message of the text. There is consensus among Arab scholars to use the Qur’an as a standard by which other Arabic literature should be measured. Muslims assert (according to the Qur’an itself) that the Qur’anic content and style is inimitable.
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.
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." Sells also addresses the much-discussed "repetitiveness" of the Qur’an, seeing this, too, as a literary device.
Interpretation and meanings[edit | edit source]
Tafsir[edit | edit source]
The Qur'an has sparked a huge body of commentary and explication (tafsir), aimed at explaining the "meanings of the Qur’anic verses, clarifying their import and finding out their significance."
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. 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.
Because the Qur’an is spoken in classical Arabic, many of the later converts to Islam (mostly non-Arabs) did not always understand the Qur’anic 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 (mansukh).
Ta'wil[edit | edit source]
Ja'far Kashfi defines ta'wil as 'to lead back or to bring something back to its origin or archetype'. It is a science whose pivot is a spiritual direction and a divine inspiration, while the tafsir is the literal exegesis of the letter; its pivot is the canonical Islamic sciences. Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei says that according to the popular explanation among the later exegetes, ta'wil indicates the particular meaning a verse is directed towards. The meaning of revelation (tanzil), as opposed to ta'wil, is clear in its accordance to the obvious meaning of the words as they were revealed. But this explanation has become so widespread that, at present, it has become the primary meaning of ta'wil, which originally meant "to return" or "the returning place". In Tabatabaei's view, what has been rightly called ta'wil, or hermeneutic interpretation of the Qur’an, is not concerned simply with the denotation of words. Rather, it is concerned with certain truths and realities that transcend the comprehension of the common run of men; yet it is from these truths and realities that the principles of doctrine and the practical injunctions of the Qur’an issue forth. Interpretation is not the meaning of the verse; rather it transpires through that meaning – a special sort of transpiration. There is a spiritual reality, which is the main objective of ordaining a law, or the basic aim in describing a divine attribute—and there is an actual significance a Qur’anic story refers to.
However Shia and Sufism (on the one hand) and Sunni (on the other) have completely different positions on the legitimacy of ta'wil. A verse in the Qur’an addresses this issue, but Shia and Sunni disagree on how it should be read. According to Shia, those who are firmly rooted in knowledge like the Prophet and the imams know the secrets of the Qur’an, while Sunnis believe that only God knows. According to Tabatabaei, the statement "none knows its interpretation except Allah" remains valid, without any opposing or qualifying clause. Therefore, so far as this verse is concerned, the knowledge of the Qur’an's interpretation is reserved for God. But Tabatabaei uses other verses and concludes that those who are purified by God know the interpretation of the Qur’an to a certain extent.
The most ancient spiritual commentary on the Qur'an consists of the teachings the Shia Imams propounded in conversations with their disciples. It was the principles of their spiritual hermeneutics that were subsequently brought together by the Sufis. These texts are narrated by Imam Ali and Ja'far al-Sadiq, Shia and Sunni Sufis.
As Corbin narrates from Shia sources, Ali himself gives this testimony:
Not a single verse of the Qur’an descended upon (was revealed to) the Messenger of God, which he did not proceed to dictate to me and make me recite. I would write it with my own hand, and he would instruct me as to its tafsir (the literal explanation) and the ta'wil (the spiritual exegesis), the nasikh (the verse that abrogates) and the mansukh (the abrogated verse), the muhkam (without ambiguity) and the mutashabih (ambiguous), the particular and the general...
According to Tabatabaei, there are acceptable and unacceptable esoteric interpretations. Acceptable ta'wil refers to the meaning of a verse beyond its literal meaning; rather the implicit meaning, which ultimately is known only to God and can't be comprehended directly through human thought alone. The verses in question here refer to the human qualities of coming, going, sitting, satisfaction, anger, and sorrow, which are apparently attributed to God. Unacceptable ta'wil is where one "transfers" the apparent meaning of a verse to a different meaning by means of a proof; this method is not without obvious inconsistencies. Although this unacceptable ta'wil has gained considerable acceptance, it is incorrect and cannot be applied to the Qur’anic verses. The correct interpretation is that reality a verse refers to. It is found in all verses, the decisive and the ambiguous alike; it is not a sort of a meaning of the word; it is a fact that is too sublime for words. God has dressed them with words to bring them a bit nearer to our minds; in this respect they are like proverbs that are used to create a picture in the mind, and thus help the hearer to clearly grasp the intended idea.
Therefore Sufi spiritual interpretations are usually accepted by Islamic scholars as authentic, as long as certain conditions are met. In Sufi history, these interpretations were sometimes considered religious innovations (bid'ah), as Salafis believe today. However, ta'wil is extremely controversial even amongst Shia. For example, when Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the leader of Islamic revolution, gave some lectures about Sura al-Fatiha in December 1979 and January 1980, protests forced him to suspend them before he could continue beyond the first two verses of the surah.
Levels of meaning[edit | edit source]
Unlike the Salafis and Zahiri, Shias and Sufis as well as some Muslim philosophers believe the meaning of the Qur’an is not restricted to the literal aspect. For them, it is an essential idea that the Qur’an also has inward aspects. Henry Corbin narrates a hadith that goes back to Muhammad:
"The Qur'an possesses
an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and
an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning (this depth possesses a depth, after the image of the celestial Spheres, which are enclosed within each other). So it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth)."
According to this view, it has also become evident that the inner meaning of the Qur’an does not eradicate or invalidate its outward meaning. Rather, it is like the soul, which gives life to the body. Corbin considers the Qur’an to play a part in Islamic philosophy, because gnosiology itself goes hand in hand with prophetology.
Commentaries dealing with the zahir (outward aspects) of the text are called tafsir, and hermeneutic and esoteric commentaries dealing with the batin are called ta'wil (“interpretation” or “explanation”), which involves taking the text back to its beginning. Commentators with an esoteric slant believe that the ultimate meaning of the Qur’an is known only to God. In contrast, Qur'anic literalism, followed by Salafis and Zahiris, is the belief that the Qur'an should only be taken at its apparent meaning.
Translations[edit | edit source]
Translation of the Qur’an has always been a problematic and difficult issue. Many argue that the Qur’anic text cannot 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.
The first complete translation of the Qur'an was completed in 884 CE in Alwar (Sindh, India now Pakistan) by the orders of Abdullah bin Umar bin Abdul Aziz on the request of the Hindu Raja Mehruk.
Nevertheless, the Qur’an has been translated into most African, Asian and European languages. The first translator of the Qur’an was Salman the Persian, who translated Fatiha into Persian during the 7th century. The first complete translation of Qur'an was into Persian during the reign of Samanids in the 9th century. 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. In early centuries, the permissibility of translations was not an issue, but whether one could use translations in prayer.
In 1936, translations in 102 languages were known. In 2010, the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review reported that the Qur'an was presented in 112 languages at the 18th International Quran Exhibition in Tehran.
Robert of Ketton's translation of the Qur'an, Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete, was the first into a Western language (Latin) for Peter the Venerable in 1143. Alexander Ross offered the first English version in 1649, from the French translation of L'Alcoran de Mahomet (1647) by Andre du Ryer. In 1734, George Sale produced the first scholarly translation of the Qur’an 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 English translators have sometimes favored archaic English words and constructions over their more modern or conventional equivalents; 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".
Literary usage[edit | edit source]
In addition to and largely independent of the division into suras, there are various ways of dividing the Qur’an into parts of approximately equal length for convenience in reading, recitation and memorization. The thirty ajza can be used to read 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, and each hizb subdivided into four rub 'al-ahzab. A different structure is provided by the ruku'at, semantical units resembling paragraphs and comprising roughly ten ayat each. Some also divide the Qur’an into seven manazil to facilitate complete recitation in a week.
Recitation[edit | edit source]
|“||...and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones.||”|
One meaning of Qur’an is "recitation", the Qur’an itself outlining the general method of how it is to be recited: slowly and in rhythmic tones. 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.
To perform salat (prayer), a mandatory obligation in Islam, a Muslim is required to learn at least some sura of the Qur’an (typically starting with the first one, 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’an is called a qari', whereas a memoriser of the Qur’an is called a hafiz (fem. 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’an is a fine art in the Muslim world.
Schools of recitation[edit | edit source]
There are several schools of Qur’anic recitation, all of which teach 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. A canonical recitation must satisfy three conditions:
- It must match the rasm, letter for letter.
- It must conform with the syntactic rules of the Arabic language.
- 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) 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 more widely used narrations are those of Hafss (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 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."
- 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’an has been revealed in Seven Ahruf. You can read it in any of them you find easy from among them.
- "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 the presence of variant readings:
- 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 read the Qur’an according to the Qira'at al-'ammah. This is the same reading the Prophet (sws) read twice 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".
- 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".
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi also purports that there is only one recitation of Qur’an, which is called Qira'at of Hafss or in classical scholarship, it is called Qira'at al-'ammah. The Qur'an has also specified that it was revealed in the language of Muhammad's tribe: the Quraysh.[Qur'an 19:97][Qur'an 44:58])
However, the identification of the recitation of Hafss 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."
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.
Writing and printing[edit | edit source]
Most Muslims today use printed editions of the Qur’an. 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’ans are produced in many different sizes. Most are of a reasonable book size, but there exist extremely large Qur’ans (usually for display purposes) and very small Qur’ans (sometimes given as gifts).
Before printing was widely adopted in the 19th century, the Qur’an was transmitted in manuscript books made by copyists and calligraphers. Short extracts from the Qur’an were printed in the medieval period from carved wooden blocks, one block per page; a technique already widely used in China. However there are no records of complete Qur'ans produced in this way, which would have involved a very large investment. Mass-produced less expensive versions of the Qur’an were produced from the 19th century by lithography, which allowed reproduction of the fine calligraphy of hand-made versions.
The oldest surviving Qur’an printed with movable type was produced in Venice in 1537/1538. It seems to have been prepared for sale in the Ottoman empire, where all movable type printing using Arabic characters had been forbidden in 1485. This decree was reversed in 1588, but there remained strong resistance to adopting movable type printing for any subjects, let alone the Qur'an, until the late 19th century. This seems to have been partly from opposition by the large profession of copyists, and for aesthetic reasons, and fear of mistakes in the text. Catherine the Great of Russia sponsored a printing of the Qur’an in 1787. This was followed by editions from Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul (1877).
It is extremely difficult to render the full Qur’an, with all the points, in computer code, such as Unicode. The Internet Sacred Text Archive makes computer files of the Qur’an freely available both as images and in a temporary Unicode version. Various designers and software firms have attempted to develop computer fonts that can adequately render the Qur’an.
Since Muslim tradition felt that directly portraying sacred figures and events might lead to idolatry, it was considered wrong to decorate the Qur’an 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 complex and beautiful. Arabic calligraphy is a highly honored art, much like Chinese calligraphy. Muslims also decorated their Qur’ans with abstract figures (arabesques), colored inks, and gold leaf. Pages from some of these antique Qur’ans are displayed throughout this article.
Relationship with other literature[edit | edit source]
Torah, Hebrew Bible and New Testament[edit | edit source]
|“||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).||”|
The Qur'an 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 the one God.
According to Sahih Bukhari, the Quran was recited among Levantines and Iraqis, and discussed by Christians and Jews before it was standardized. Its language was similar to the Syriac language. The Qur'an recounts 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, Eber, Shelah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Jethro, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Aaron, Moses, Zechariah, John the Baptist, and Jesus 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 their common divine source, and that the original Christian or Jewish texts were authentic divine revelations given to prophets.
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'an.
Christian apocrypha[edit | edit source]
The Diatessaron, Protoevangelium of James, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Arabic Infancy Gospel were claimed by the New Catholic Encyclopaedia to have been sources that the author(s) drew on when creating the Qur'an. Ibn Rawandi claims that the Diatessaron, as a gospel harmony, may have led to the misconception in the Qur'an that the Christian Gospel is one text.[unreliable source?]
Arabic writing[edit | edit source]
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...
Culture[edit | edit source]
Most Muslims treat paper copies of the Qur’an with veneration, ritually washing before reading the Qur’an. 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, burned, or buried in a remote location. 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.
Based on tradition and a literal interpretation of sura 56:77–79: "That this is indeed a Qur’an Most Honourable, In a Book well-guarded, Which none shall touch but those who are clean.", many scholars believe that a Muslim must perform a ritual cleansing with water (wudu) before touching a copy of the Qur’an, or mus'haf although this view is ubiquitous.
Qur'an desecration means mishandling the Qur’an by defiling or dismembering it. Muslims believe they should 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’an is an important element of religious faith by many Muslims. They believe that intentionally insulting the Qur’an is a form of blasphemy.
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.
See also[edit | edit source]
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Notes[edit | edit source]
- From the article on the Quran in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
- Alan Jones, The Koran, London 1994, ISBN 1842126091, opening page.
- Arthur Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, London 1956, ISBN 0684825074, p. x.
- Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science, 1978, ISBN 8172311613, p. 125
- Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2007). "Qur’an". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved on 2007-11-04.
- Qur'an 2:23–24
- Qur'an 33:40
- Watton, Victor, (1993), A student's approach to world religions:Islam, Hodder & Stoughton, pg 1. ISBN 0-340-58795-4
- Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World's Faiths, Mary Pat Fisher, 1997, page 338, I.B. Tauris Publishers.
- Qur'an 17:106
- "CRCC: Center For Muslim-Jewish Engagement: Resources: Religious Texts". Usc.edu. Retrieved on 2010-03-16.
- William Montgomery Watt in The Cambridge History of Islam, p.32
- Richard Bell, William Montgomery Watt, Introduction to the Qur’an, p.51
- F. E. Peters (1991), pp.3–5: “Few have failed to be convinced that … the Qur’an is … the words of Muhammad, perhaps even dictated by him after their recitation.”
- Peters (2003), pp.12 and 13
- Qur'an 87:18–19
- Qur'an 3:3
- Qur'an 5:44
- Qur'an 4:163
- Qur'an 17:55
- Qur'an 5:46
- Qur'an 5:110
- Qur'an 57:27
- Qur'an 3:84
- Qur'an 4:136
- “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. Webcitation.org
- Nasr (2003), p.42
- Qur'an 2:67–76
- “Ķur'an, al-”, Encyclopedia of Islam Online.
- Qur'an Ali.qmt.html#Yusuf Ali.075 Yusuf Ali:75
- Qur'an 20:2 cf.
- Qur'an 25:32 cf.
- Qur'an 7:204
- See “Ķur'an, al-”, Encyclopedia of Islam Online and [Qur'an 9:111]
- 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.”
- *Tabatabaee, 1988, chapter 5
- William Montgomery Watt in The Cambridge History of Islam, p.32
- Richard Bell, William Montgomery Watt, Introduction to the Qur'an, p.51
- Encyclopedia of Islam online, Muhammad article
- Qur'an 7:157
- Observations on Early Qur'an Manuscripts in San'a
- The Qur'an as Text, ed. Wild, Brill, 1996 ISBN 90-04-10344-9
- Sahih al-Bukhari, 6:60:201
- Mohamad K. Yusuff, Zayd ibn Thabit and the Glorious Qur’an
- The Koran; A Very Short Introduction, Michael Cook. Oxford University Press, P.117 – P.124
- *F. E. Peters (1991), pp.3–5: "Few have failed to be convinced that the Qur’an is the words of Muhammad, perhaps even dictated by him after their recitation."
- Qur'an 2:23–4
- Wild (1996), pp. 140
- Qur'an 43:3
- Corbin (1993), p.10
- Corbin (1993), pp .10 and 11
- [Qur'an 17:88]
- [Qur'an 2:23]
- [Qur'an 10:38]
- Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an – Miracles
- Ahmad Dallal, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, Qur'an and science
- Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an – Byzantines
- Arabic: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم, transliterated as: bismi-llāhi ar-raḥmāni ar-raḥīmi.
- “Kur`an, al-”, Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- Allen (2000) p. 53
- 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!" http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=21
- "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
- Rashad Khalifa, Qur’an: Visual Presentation of the Miracle, Islamic Productions International, 1982. ISBN 0-934894-30-2
- Qur'an 74:30 Prophecies Made in the Qur’an that Have Already Come True]
- Issa Boullata, "Literary Structure of Qur’an," Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, vol.3 p.192, 204
- Jewishencyclopedia.com – Körner, Moses B. Eliezer
- Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur’an (White Cloud Press, 1999)
- Norman O. Brown, "The Apocalypse of Islam." Social Text 3:8 (1983–1984)
- Preface of Al'-Mizan, reference is to Allameh Tabatabaei
- Qur'an 2:151
- Tafseer Al-Mizan
- How can there be abrogation in the Quran?
- Are the verses of the Qur'an Abrogated and/or Subtituted?
- Islam Review – Presented by The Pen vs. the Sword Featured Articles ... Islam: the Facade, the Facts The rosy picture some Muslims are painting about their religion, and the truth they try to hide
- Corbin (1993), p.9
- Tabataba'I, Tafsir Al-Mizan, The Principles of Interpretation of the Qur’an
- Tabataba'I, Tafsir Al-Mizan, Topic: Decisive and Ambiguous verses and "ta'wil"
- Qur'an 3:7
- Corbin (1993), pp.7 and 8
- Corbin (1993), p.46
- ما نَزلت على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم آية من القرآن إلاّ أقرأنيها وأملاها عليَّ فكتبتها بخطي ، وعلمني تأويلها وتفسيرها، وناسخها ومنسوخها ، ومحكمها ومتشابهها ، وخاصّها وعامّها ، ودعا الله لي أن يعطيني فهمها وحفظها فما نسيتُ آية من كتاب الله تعالى ولا علماً أملاه عليَّ وكتبته منذ دعا الله لي بما دعا ، وما ترك رسول الله علماً علّمه الله من حلال ولا حرام ، ولا أمرٍ ولا نهي كان أو يكون.. إلاّ علّمنيه وحفظته، ولم أنسَ حرفاً واحداً منه
- Tabatabaee (1988), pp. 37–45
- Sufi Tafsir and Isma'ili Ta'wil
- Algar, Hamid (June 2003), The Fusion of the Gnostic and the Political in the Personality and Life of Imam Khomeini (R.A.)
- Corbin (1993), p.7
- Tabatabaee, Tafsir Al-Mizan
- Corbin (1993), p.13
- Aslan, Reza (20 November 2008). "How To Read the Quran". Slate. Retrieved on 21 November 2008.
- Fatani, Afnan (2006). The Qur’an: an encyclopedia. Routeledge, 657–669.
- An-Nawawi, Al-Majmu', (Cairo, Matbacat at-'Tadamun n.d.), 380.
- "More than 300 publishers visit Quran exhibition in Iran" (12 August 2010).
- (2002) Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 42.
- "Surah 3 - Read Quran Online". Retrieved on 21 November 2010.
- Sonn, Tamara (2006). The Qur’an: an encyclopedia. Routeledge, 71–81.
- Navid Kermani, Das ästhetische Erleben des Koran. Munich (1999)
- Malik Ibn Anas, Muwatta, vol. 1 (Egypt: Dar Ahya al-Turath, n.d.), 201, (no. 473).
- Suyuti, Tanwir al-Hawalik, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dar al-Jayl, 1993), 199.
- Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. Mizan, Principles of Understanding the Qur’an, Al-Mawrid
- Zarkashi, al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1980), 237.
- Suyuti, al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Baydar: Manshurat al-Radi, 1343 AH), 177.
- E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon
- Muslim Printing Before Gutenberg
- Peter G. Riddell, Tony Street, Anthony Hearle Johns, Islam: essays on scripture, thought, and society : a festschrift in honour of Anthony H. Johns, pp. 170–174, BRILL, 1997, ISBN 90-04-10692-8, 9789004106925
- Suraiya Faroqhi, Subjects of the Sultan: culture and daily life in the Ottoman Empire, pp, 134–136, I.B.Tauris, 2005, ISBN 1-85043-760-2, 9781850437604;The Encyclopaedia of Islam: Fascicules 111–112 : Masrah Mawlid, Clifford Edmund Bosworth
- The Qur’an in Manuscript and Print. "The Qur'anic Script". Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
- Article by A. Yusuf Ali. "The Holy Qur’an". Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
- Unicode Qur’an. "Sacred-texts". Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
- Mishafi Font. "Award-winning calligraphic typeface". Retrieved on 2007-06-05.
- 3:3 نزل عليك الكتاب بالحق مصدقا لما بين يديه وانزل التوراة والانجيل
- Qur'an 2:285
- Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8. p.69
- New Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1967, The Catholic University of America, Washington D C, Vol. VII, p.677
- On pre-Islamic Christian strophic poetical texts in the Koran, Ibn Rawandi, ISBN 1-57392-945-X
- Leaman, Oliver (2006). The Qur’an: an encyclopedia. Routeledge, 130–135.
- Wadad Kadi and Mustansir Mir, Literature and the Qur’an, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, vol. 3, pp. 213, 216
- Mahfouz (2006), p.35
- Kugle (2006), p.47; Esposito (2000a), p.275
- Rippin, Andrew (2006). The Qur'an: an encyclopedia. Routeledge, 159–163.
[edit | edit source]
- Online Quran Project includes over 100+ translation in over 20 different languages.
- Tanzil::Holy Quran Project text and translations (in 34 languages, some with multiple translation editions); two classic Arabic interpretations; audio streaming of recitations by multiple classic readers; with synchronized verse auto-highlighting (in Arabic and translation); continuous synchronized audio and text streaming; display options; integrated user interface.
- zekr quran study program available for different platforms.
- Koran leaf dated 1106, Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont Libraries