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Friday, September 01, 2006

The Quran

The Quran is the primary source containing all the fundamental directives and instructions of Allah. Herein are to be found not only the directives relating to individual conduct but also the principles relating to all the aspects of social and cultural life of human being.

The Quran is the last and complete edition of Divine Guidance and this is the only book of Allah that has not been distorted.

The Quran is not only a book of law. Its main purpose is to awaken in man the higher consciousness of his relation with Allah and the universe. However, in the Quran there are at least five hundred verses which possess definite legal elements. The scholars of Islam have developed a complete science of interpretation of the Quranic verses that can be seen in any book of Islamic jurisprudence.


The Quran is a compilation of the verbal revelations given to the Holy Prophet Muhammad over a period of twenty two years. The language of the Quran is Arabic. The word Quran means something that is "read" or "recited". The diction of the Quran could be best described as poetic prose and its language is a model of linguistic purity and stylistic elegance.

The Quran is the Holy Book or the Scriptures of the Muslims. It lays down for them the law and commandments, codes for their social and moral behaviour, and contains a comprehensive religious philosophy. It is the ultimate source of the Islamic law and a complete guidance for the Muslims.

The Quran is divided into 114 Surahs or Chapters and each Chapter consists of individual Ayaat or verses. There are in total 6,348 verses in the Holy Quran. The Surahs are of varying lengths, some consisting of a few lines while others run for many pages. Surah al Baqarah is the longest Chapter comprising 287 verses while Surah al Kauthar is the shortest with only four verses including the tasmia.

Each Surah in the Quran has a name given to it. These names are not necessarily revealed but have been introduced by scholars and editors for the sake of reference. These names are usually taken from some prominent or unusual word which occurs in the Surah.

In the printed copies of the Quran, the title of each Surah is followed by the name of the place where the Chapter was revealed. The place names used are "Meccan" for all Surahs revealed before Hijrah (622 A.D.), and "Medinite" for all Surahs revealed after Hijrah. Many of the Surahs in the Quran are composite, and a Chapter marked Meccan may contain some verses from the Medinite period, and vice versa.

During the twenty two year period of the Quranic revelations, Prophet Muhammad lived in Mecca for twelve years (610 622 A.D.) and in Medinah for ten (622 632 A.D.). Of the 114 Surahs of the Holy Quran, about 92 were revealed in Mecca and 22 in Medinah. Generally speaking, there are three characteristics which distinguish Meccan Surahs from the Medinite ones:

1. The Meccan Surahs deal mainly with faith, while the Medinite Surahs deal mainly with action or the implementation of faith.

2. Meccan Surahs are generally prophetic, while the Medinite Surahs deal with the realization and fulfillment of prophecies.

3. Meccan Surahs emphasize Man's relationship with God, while Medinite Surahs emphasize man's relationship with fellow man and lay down rules and regulations for social and moral conduct.

For a time the Quran was being preserved by the early Muslims who would memorize the revelations received by the Holy Prophet. This was the normal practice at that time and the pre Islamic Arabic poems were treated in the same way. However, as the revelations grew in number and as some of the Muslims who had memorized the Quran started to be lost in battles, the Holy Prophet appointed some scribes to write down the Quran.

As the Quranic verses were revealed in passages of varying sizes and belonging to different Surahs, the text of the Holy Quran did not exist in one volume during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. It was during the Caliphates of Abu Bakr and Omar that the task of collecting the Quran in one volume was entrusted to Zayd bin Thabit. During the time of Uthman, the third Caliph of Islam, an authorized version of the Quran was established which was then used for making duplicate copies. These duplicate copies were sent to various parts of the Muslim world to be used as standard texts for further copying.

The text of the Holy Quran has remained unchanged over the past 1400 years. The millions of copies of the Quran circulating in the world today are all identical down to a single letter. And this is not strange since God says in the Holy Quran that He Himself will guard this book:

"Surely it is We Who have revealed the Exposition, and surely it is We Who are its guardians" (15:10)

To the Muslims, the Quran is the Word of God and contains complete guidance for mankind. Much of the Quran is about God, His attributes and man's relationship to Him. But it also contains directives for its followers, historical accounts of certain prophets and peoples, arguments for accepting Muhammad as a genuine Prophet and good news for the believers and warnings for the disbelievers. Broadly speaking, the contents of the Holy Quran fall into five main categories:

1. Nature of the Spiritual World
2. The Law and Commandments
3. Historical Accounts
4. The Wisdom
5. The Prophecies

Source :http://www.alislam.org/books/religiousknowledge/toc.html
http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/quran.htm
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Questions

1. What is the importance of the Quran for the Muslims?
2. Give an account on the writing and recording of The Holy Quran!
3. What does The Quran contain?

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