What is the Qur’an?
The Glorious Qur’an is the eternal miracle. It is the last book of Allah (God Almighty) sent for the guidance of humanity through the last Prophet: Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Revelation of the Qur’an
The Qur’an was revealed piecemeal throughout a period of about 23 years. The Prophet (pbuh) received the first revelation in 610 C.E. in the Cave of Hira in the Mountain of Light (Jabal-e-Noor), two and a half miles away from the House of Allah in the city of Makkah in Arabia.
The first revelation was the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq:
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created –
Created man from a clinging substance.
Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous –
Who taught by the pen –
Taught man that which he knew not.” (Qur’an: 96:1-5)
The last revelation was the third verse of Surah Al-Maidah, which was sent down to the Prophet (pbuh) in 632 C.E:
“…This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion…” (Qur’an, 5:3)
Surah Al-Fatiha (The Opening Chapter) was the first complete chapter to be revealed and Surah An-Nasr was the last.
Divisions of the Qur’an
The Qur’an is divided into thirty equal divisions, which was called Juz in Arabic. There are 114 chapters, of varying length. The longest chapter is Al-Baqarah consisting of 286 verses and the shortest chapter is Al-Kawthar consisting of three verses only. The whole Qur’an has 6,236 verses containing 336,233 letters.
The chapters revealed before the migration of the Prophet to Madinah are called Makkan, whereas those sent down after the migration are called Madinan.
Topics of the Chapters
Makkan chapters generally consist of brief sentences which are full of enthusiasm, poetical, lofty and brilliant. They stress the Unity and Majesty of Allah, the Most Exalted, Most High (SWT), denounce idle worship, promise paradise for the righteous and warn wrongdoers of their punishment in Hellfire, confirm the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh), and remind humanity of the past prophets and events of their time.
On the other hand, the Madinan chapters are lengthy and the verses are more straightforward. They outline some of the ritual aspects of Islam such as Zakah, Fasting, and Hajj, as well as lay down moral and ethical codes, criminal laws, social, economic, provide guidelines for foreign relations and so on.
Further, they contain descriptions of some of the early battles of Islam, condemnation of hypocrites, emphasis on the unified basic message of all the past prophets, and confirmation that the process of prophethood and revelation is complete. So here, Allah the Almighty exhorted the followers of truth to make the Qur’an as their only guide.
The Importance of the Qur’an
The Qur’an is considered the eternal miracle of Islam. It is the complete and best guide for living one’s life and seeking Allah’s pleasure. The teachings of the Qur’an are universal, addressed to all people throughout the world regardless of their creed and colour. They enlighten an individual’s soul, purify his moral, condemn all wrong, order good deeds and call for the establishment of justice and fraternity through obeying Allah as the supreme authority.
The Qur’an provides the regulations that create the proper relations between human beings and Allah, as well as human beings amongst other human beings.
As well as this, the Glorious Qur’an leads individuals to understand their role in this world, encourage them to think and ponder, and guide them in the usage of natural resources. In short, the Qur’an provides all the guidance that humanity needs.
Compilation of the Qur’an
The Qur’an was revealed piecemeal, according to the needs of the time. Angel Gabriel brought it to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who would memorize it. Afterwards, it was preserved in two different ways.
First, this was compiled through memorisation. There were a number of early Muslims who would memorise each revelation as soon as it was revealed, and thus had the whole Qur’an memorised at the time of the final revelation. The tradition of memorising the entire Qur’an still continues, and a person who does so is called a Hafidh or Hafiz.
Secondly, the Qur’an was preserved through writing. Whenever any revelation took place, it was written at once on tablets, palm branches, leaves, or animal skin. This was done primarily by Zaid bin Thabit (peace be upon him), who was the main scribe out of the 42 scribes of the revelation. The Prophet (pbuh) set the order of the chapters under the guidance of Angel Gabriel, and ordered his companions to maintain that order.
The close companion of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): Abu Bakr (peace be upon him) complied the Qur’an, and later, Uthman (another companion) (pbuh), made numerous copies and sent one copy to each state capital.
The Qur’an is the only ever-lasting miracle. Today, no other miracle of any Prophets exists. According to a survey, the number of Hafidh alive today is more than 10 million.
Millions of editions and copies were printed and handwritten in almost every part of the world. They were also translated into most of the languages around the world. During the period of over 1400 years since the Qur’an was revealed, not a single letter has changed. This is one of the greatest miracles of the Qur’an.
‘Al-Qur’an at a Glance’