Discover Islam: Basic Concepts: Qur'an






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A Brief Introduction to the Qur’ân, for the Open Mind

(Prepared by Nadeem Abdul Hamid)

Imagine a book first written over a millennium ago— 700 years before the printing press, hundreds of years before the language English we speak today existed,[1] back in the era when Latin was not a “dead” language, and the Europe of today was sunk in the “Dark Ages.” This book is written in an obscure desert language belonging to the family of Syriac, Aramaic, Chaldean, and Himyerita. It is a book of several hundred pages, divided into 114 chapters, some 6,000 sentences, and over 80,000 words.

Imagine that as this book is compiled over a period of 23 years it is “written” down on leaves, bones, and parchment. The initial audience—a tribal people few of whom are literate, many of whom are gifted poets and orators, and all of whom are proud of the eloquence of their language—memorize the contents of this book by heart even as it is being recorded in ink.

Now, imagine that through the centuries up till today a number of people continued to memorize, copy down, and reprint this book. Imagine that you could travel the streets of the world and that one in every five people you met today had read this book, in its original language, and each one of them had at least one copy of it at home. Millions of people have memorized, if not all of it, at least ten to twenty of its shorter chapters.

Imagine that the language of this book is still understood and spoken today, in its original form, as a lingua franca from China and Indonesia to Greenland and Alaska and everywhere in between— to say nothing of the descendents of the original people living on a small peninsula who first recorded its words. Imagine that you could get a copy of this book as it was originally written over fourteen hundred years ago and that you compared it to the latest, most fanciest version of today and you found not a single letter of difference between the two.

Imagine that this book, when first transcribed and propagated, resulted in the greatest, yet most peaceful, political, social, economic, and moral revolution the world has ever witnessed. The transformation it caused among a war-crazy, tribal, backwards, ignorant folk, directly affected and brought about what we now call the “Renaissance,” and even today the lives of over a billion people in the world are influenced, if not directly guided, by the principles espoused in this book.

Now, stop imagining, because this book is real! It is a Book known as the Qur’ân, written in the Arabic language and it is every bit as miraculous as the description above sounds.

It is simply impossible to describe, especially for one who has not experienced it, the inimitable ellipticism, miraculous elegance, grandiose cadence, and emotive and evocative force on a multilateral scale that is the characteristic of the Qur’ân. In this article, we hope to provide you with a brief overview of the significance of this Book—its history, preservation, style, structures, and subjects and themes. We put forward to you directly that which we, as Muslims, sincerely hold to be Truth and hope that you will continue on through this essay with an open mind.


1.    Overview

The Qur’ân is the revealed word of the Almighty Allâh.[2] It is the culmination and perfection of the series of messages sent to guide mankind through a chain of prophets beginning with Âdam ( - peace be upon him) and terminating with the last and final messenger of God, the Prophet Muhammad ( - peace and blessings of Allâh be upon them all). It is the firm belief of the Muslims that after the Qur’ân, the “Final Testament,” there will come no further revelation to mankind up until the Day of Judgment, an event which also holds a central place in the creed of Islâm. The fact that the Qur’ân has been preserved intact for thousands of years and its teachings have remained unadulterated (unlike previously revealed scriptures) already bears testimony to the soundness of this conviction.



[1] Although the language called Old English developed at least as early as the 6th century of the Christian Era (C.E.) it would be totally incomprehensible to an “English” speaker today and, practically speaking, it is as dead as Latin. The English language as we speak it today developed sometime after the 11th or 12th century C.E.

[2] Lord, Sustainer, and Sole Creator of the Universe and everything beyond it.


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Last modified 08/12/05 09:45 AM - Connecticut Council of Masajid, Inc.