For those who are newcomers to the Qur'an,
we offer some essential points which would enable you to approach this Book in the
most beneficial manner.
What Is "The Qur'an"?
Though categorised and treated as a book, the Qur'an is
not a "book" in the ordinary sense of the word. It is
neither a treatise nor a dissertation on dogmas or a particular theme,
nor is it a book on Religion. It is a unique book, the only one of its
kind in all the world. Its overall style and the organisation of its
subject matter differ in essence and format from the other religious
The literal meaning of the Arabic language word Qur'an is
"reading or recitation [par excellence]".
This Holy Book of Islam is not the composition of a man, nor is it the
collected thoughts or opinions of wise men through the ages. It is the
"Words of the Almighty God", the Creator and the Lord
of the universe, available in its original form and preserved intact.
It is the last and final divine guidance for mankind, a re-statement,
correction, completion, and perfection of the earlier messages.
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Its Subject Matter And Theme
The subject matter of the Qur'an revolves around man
(human beings), and it approaches those aspects of his
life which lead to his real success or failure. The central theme
that runs through the Qur'an is an exposition on Reality,
with the agenda of inviting mankind to the right path.
Its purpose is not simply to instruct or even to convert to something
new, but to mould and transform man in accord with his innate being.
As such, the Qur'an proceeds simultaneously, in its own unique
style, to inform, to reorient and then to motivate and mobilise men and
women to fulfill their mission in life. It invites man to use his intellect, to
think and reflect, and to attain to faith.
God, after creating the human race, has not left us without any direction in
our lives. If the loving Creator has provided us with what we need for
our physical existence, growth, and protection (e.g., air,
sustenance and shelter), He has also provided us with what
we need for our moral and spiritual existence, development, and security.
The Qur'an is but this provision to mankind - divine guidance
in the widest sense of the word.
No one can know with certainty about the unseen and incomprehensible
Realities (such as God and His attributes, man's purpose and
mission of life on the earth, his life after death, etc.) alone through
instinct, habit, intuition, reason, or experience. No one can have the
unquestionable knowledge of the ultimate values to which human
behaviour should conform. Mythology, philosophy, history, etc.,
the sources of guidance developed by mortal man himself have
their own limitations, are subjective, may be ethno-centric or age-bound,
and can be grossly misleading. Man has to depend on and trust what his
Creator has informed him about and prescribed for him. Divine guidance
thus is an essential human need.
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Background Of The Revelation
The glory and majesty of God is so awesome and overwhelming that a limited,
mortal, flesh-and-bone human being is not capable and equipped to receive direct
contact with Him. So, in order to communicate with man, God has chosen the
ways He knows to be the most appropriate. The transmission of the message
of divine guidance to His selected agents (called Prophets/Messengers)
via the archangel Gabriel, is a specific process of communication, which we term
The Qur'an was revealed in the seventh century of the Christian Era
to Prophet Mohammed ('peace be upon him') -
the last and final among a long chain of the Prophets of God who had
been raised up in different parts of the world. The Qur'an was
revealed in stages, bit by bit, as occasion or situation made relevant
various verses, over a span of 23 years. As the verses of the
Qur'an were being revealed, they were memorised by the
Prophet. He then conveyed these "readings" or texts
verbatim to his Companions, and instructed certain scribes to write
them down. The Qur'an was thus completely preserved both by
memorisation and in written form during the life time of the Prophet.
The verses and passages were arranged under divine instructions to
the Prophet to arrive at their present order, which is something other
than a chronological sequence.
is totally and purely the "words of God". It does not
contain anything other than the Word of God, not even a word of Prophet
Mohammed - 'peace be upon him'. (The sayings of the
Prophet, called Hadith, are compiled as separate books.)
The Qur'an itself claims that it is without doubt from God Almighty.
has a form of language and style that cannot be imitated by humans.
It has stood as a challenge to the literary ability of men of letters. It is a living
miracle, articulated by an unlettered Prophet.
remains with us today in a contemporary living language, and stands
independent of translations. The original clear Arabic text can always be
referred to for deciding any controversy. Its language, Arabic, is still widely
spoken and understood today, one of the top ten languages of the world.
In fact, the Qur'an has kept the Arabic language a living tongue and
remains its standard.
has been preserved in its exact original form, in its entire content, as it was
revealed to the Prophet fourteen centuries ago, not a word added or removed.
This is a historical fact beyond dispute. God Himself has assured us of its
preservation (Qur'an chapter 15, verse 9).
Thus, there has been only one version of the Qur'an all across the world,
all through the ages, right from the time of the Prophet.
has always been in the hands of the people and was never a property of
clergy or a section of the society.
is memorised by millions of Muslims the world over, including children as young as
8-10 years old. It is recited regularly, abundantly, and on some occasions
completely, both within the ritual prayers and elsewhere.
Every discipline has its own demands. So has the reading of the Qur'an.
Anyone who wants to really understand the message of the Qur'an,
whether he/she actually believes in the Book or not, will be able to get the
best results by approaching it:
with an open mind, putting aside all pre-conceived notions,
bearing in mind the nature of this Book and its uniqueness,
in a spirit of reverence and thoughtful attention, and not
with the casual treatment given to an ordinary book.
This is a Holy Book and is to be handled with respect. The reader is
expected to be clean in person and place of sitting, and should never
put it in an unclean place.
"This is the Book wherein there is no doubt; a guidance to
those who are God-conscious."
"0 mankind! There has now come unto you an admonition from
your Lord, and a cure for all [the ill] in your heart ? and
for those who believe, a guidance and a mercy."
This Page Last Updated 26/11/2009 12:47:15 p.m.
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PLEASE NOTE: The revealed Arabic Qur'an is the authoritative and primary source of reference and as such the Qur'anic English translations are provided purely as indicative interpretations.