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The Qur'an (also Quran and Koran and Alcoran, Arabic قُرْآن) is the Islamic holy book of Allah (The Divine i.e. God).

Practitioners of Islam, called Muslims, believe that the Qur'an is the eternal, literal word of God, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 22 years. The Qur'an consists of 114 suras (chapters) with together 6,228 ayats (verses).

The content in the Qur'an makes reference to similar personages and events as the Jewish and Christian Bibles. Well-known Biblical characters such as Adam, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist are mentioned.

Muslims believe that the wording of Qur'anic text that we have today is identical to that spoken by Muhammad himself; created by God and delivered to Muhammad through Gabriel. Muhammad is supposed to have only delivered the Qur'an in spoken form during his lifetime; the word "Qur'an" (repertoire) is suitably translated as "recital" indicating that it cannot exist as merely a text. To ensure they remembered the text thoroughly, the faithful were required to (and many still do) memorize passages perfectly, down to the last syllable, and recite them frequently. A person whose recital repertoire encompasses the whole Quran is called a Qari' (قَارٍئ).

According to the dominant tradition, Muhammad's companions began recording all the Suras in writing before Muhammad died in 632 CE. Thus Muslims proudly cite, two different mechanisms were in place -- oral and written -- to help ensure that no corruption of the text took place over time.

There is almost no dispute among Islamic scholars that the text today is as it was when it was first written down. However, there has been consistent effort to ensure homogenity of the text to the extent that factions of certain "madhabs" (one of the five Islamic schools of thought) have destroyed copies with any variation making an objective and scientific study on the authenticity of Quranic codexes virtually impossible. The two most common versions of the Quran in circulation are the Warshun and Hafshun versions and recent discoveries of "Quran Graveyards" have thrown more light onto the subject of text evolution and transcribal disputes in early Islam. The Quran has been translated into many languages, but translations of the Qur'an from Arabic to other languages are not considered by Muslims to be actual copies of the Qu'ran, but rather are considered to be interpretive translations of the Qu'ran and they are not allotted much weight in debates upon Quranic meaning. The preferred method of interpretation of the meanings of the classical Arabic Quran is by searching for examples relevant to the passages from the Hadith -the collection of Islamic traditions from which the details of early Islamic history are derived.

Most Muslims believe that of the major religious works containing the word of God, (Qur'an, Torah and Bible) only the Qur'an has remained uncorrupted over the years. In recent years, a new development of Muslim theology has begun to latch onto the findings of modern biblical scholarship. Such scholarship has shown that the extant version of the five books of Moses was not written solely by Moses 3&1/2 thousand years ago, as traditional Jews and Christians had believed, but instead was edited together perhaps 2&1/2 thousand years ago from a number of previous sources; this is known as the Documentary hypothesis. Similar work has been carried out on the New Testament. According to religious Muslims, this is "proof" that Jews and Christians did not understand the importance of maintaining their own scriptures. Even so Islamic tradition does not permit disrespect of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, and belief in their worth is an article of the Islamic faith, though a "protestant" faction of Muslims are now calling such orthodox traditions into question. (See below for the discussion of the origin of the Qur'an.) Fundamentally however, all but the most progressive Muslims will agree that the Qur'an has no errors nor inconsistencies.

An analogue to Christian Creation Science has recently developed within Islam, in which fundamentalist Muslims believe that the Qur'an contains many statements that have been found to be consistent with discoveries made by modern science (see external links below). The statements within the Qur'an cover the origin of the Universe, the description of black holes, quantum physics, the water cycle, human embryology, geology, and many others.

Table of contents
1 Contemporary Scholarship and the Qur'an
2 Translation of the Qur'an
3 See also
4 Literature
5 External Links

Contemporary Scholarship and the Qur'an

Just as higher biblical criticism revolutionzed Judaism and Christianity by calling into question long held assumptions about the origins of the Bible, similar studies have done the same for the Qur'an. Parts of the Qur'an are based on stories of the Tanakh Hebrew Bible, the New Testament of the Christian Bible and other non-canonical Christian works. Differences of the biblical to the Qur'anic versions indicate that these stories were not taken directly from written texts but seem rather to have been part of the oral traditions of the Arab peninsula at Mohammed's time.

Islamic history records that Uthman ibn Affan collected all variants of the Qur'an and destroyed those of which he did not approve. Beside the known earlier versions from Abdallah Ibn Masud and Ubay Ibn Ka'b, there exist also some dubious reports about a shiite version which was allegedly compiled by Ali, Mohammed's son in law which he gave up in favor of Uthman's collection. Modern researchers assume that the differences between the versions consisted mostly of orthographical and lexicalic variants and differing count of verses.

Since Uthman's version contained no diacritical marks and could be read in various ways, around the year 700 started the development of a vocalized version. Today the Qur'an is published in fully vocalized versions.

The Hadiths (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) represent an additional view into the Muslim understanding of Islamic law. (It is roughly equivalent to Judaism's oral law in the Mishna and Talmuds.) Different schools within the various branches of Islam accept different hadith collections as genuine.

The interpretation of the Qur'an soon developed into its own science, the ilm at-tafsir. Famous commentators were at-Tabari, az-Zamahshari, at-Tirmidhi. While these commentaries mention all common and accepted interpretations, modern fundamentalist commentaries like the one of Sayyed Qutb show tendencies to stick to only one possible interpretation.

Today seven canonical readings of the Qur'an and several uncanonical exist. This sevener-system was laid down by Ibn Mugahid who tried to find the special characteristics of each reading and thus derived common rules by analogical reasoning (qiyas).

Robert of Ketton was the first to translate the Quran into Latin in 1143.

The proper rules (laws?) governing the translation and publication of the Qur'an state that when the book is published, it must never simply be entitled "The Qur'an." The title must always include a defining adjective, which is why all available editions of the Qur'an are titled The Glorious Qur'an, The Noble Qur'an, and other similar titles..

Translation of the Qur'an

See also

An American muslim Rashad Khalifa (d. 1990) claimed to have discovered intricate numerical patterns in the Qur'an involving the number 19. Refer to his article for more details.


External Links