What Is the Qur’an?
The Qur’an is the miraculous word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), whose recitation is considered as an act of worship and found in Mushaf copies.
Qur’an was transmitted with infinite precision and all the texts contained in it were subject to strict criteria set by the collection-committees formed by Sahabah (companions )of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah be pleased with them, in terms of acceptance or rejection.
Zaid ibn Thabit, may Allah be pleased with him, one of those who undertook this task was not to accept one verse in the Qur’an except that two witnesses testified that it was read before the Messenger of Allah-peace be upon him.
Such strict standards remained until the reign of Caliph Osman ibn Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, who saved the standard copy of the Qur’an. Blachere, a French thinker notes, “The credit after God gets back to the Caliph Othman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) for his contribution before the year 655 A.H in the removal of risks arising from the existence of many copies of the Qur’an, and to him alone, Muslims accredit the task of the authentication of their text along generations”.
Names of the Qur’an:
The Qur’an has many names. It is called: “The book”, as in the words of God Almighty:
“By the clear Book”. (2:43)
It is also called “the Criterion”, as in the words of God Almighty:
“Blessed who descended the Criterion to his servant (1:25)
And also, “al-Dhikr” as in the words of Allah Almighty:
“And this [Qur’an] is a blessed message which We have sent down. Then are you with it unacquainted?” http://tanzil.net/#21:50. (21:50)
It is also called Al-Nur (light) and Al-Tanzil (Revelation descending).
Miracles of the Holy Qur’an
When revelation came to Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him)-, he called for faith in God, His unity and individuality in worship.
The Makkah-community tried hard to criticize the Qur’an to find fault within it and overthrow the call of Islam. The Qur’an came down in their language. They were shocked by the highest language and coolest style in which the Qur’an came ;they felt that their words cannot rival its words for it is not like their words!
The Qur’an challenged them to come up with something similar to it, and they were unable to do so. Allah says:
“Say, (If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants).”(17:88)
The books of biography and Sunnah of the Prophet quotes a part of the conflict and struggle at the front of disbelief as regards to the nature of the Qur’an and its splendor:
“Al-Walid Ibn Mughira was told by Abu Jahl to combat the Qur’an and linguistically find fault in it . The latter replied that he had never heard such beautiful words in his whole life! He told him that the Qur’an had the most perfect words, perfect rhyme and tune, perfect grammar and style. It was perfect in everything!”
Jubayir ibn Mut’im (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
“When I was pagan, I heard the Messenger of Allah- peace be upon him- reading the Qur’an in Maghrib Prayer until he reached the verse: (Are they created from nothing or are they the creators?, Did they create the heavens and the earth but they are not sure, or do they have the treasures of your Lord, or are they the rulers?[Al-Tur: 35-37]) , I felt that My heart was near to fly”.
Blacher notes: “The Qur’an is not a miracle with its content and teachings only. It can also be, before anything else a wonderful, a literary masterpiece that surpasses all that humanity has adopted. The second caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) who was at first among the strongest opponents of the new religion of Islam, has become one of the most enthusiastic supporters of it after hearing a piece of the Qur’an”.
The Qur’an Tells about Former Nations
The Qur’an presents the news of the previous nations and foretells about the future of later times. When the Jews and the Christians wanted to guide history on their behalf and claimed that Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, was following their religions, the Qur’an responds to them and rectifies the matter. It points out that Prophet Abraham was neither a Christian nor a Jew and he was rather a Muslim (Monotheist). The Qur’an says:
“O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Abraham while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Then will you not reason? Here you are – those who have argued about that of which you have [some] knowledge, but why do you argue about that of which you have no knowledge? And Allah knows, while you know not. Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists. Indeed, the most worthy of Abraham among the people are those who followed him [in submission to Allah] and this prophet, and those who believe [in his message]. And Allah is the ally of the believers”. (3-65-68).
The credibility of this scripture is revealed in the disclosure and clarification of the facts and the abolition of falsehood without favoritism of one sect at the expense of others.
It is a book of justice and honesty. Allah Almighty says:
“And from those who say, “We are Christians” We took their covenant; but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded. So We caused among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection. And Allah is going to inform them about what they used to do.”(5:14)
Therefore, the Qur’an denied the allegation of the deity of Christ and brought Jesus’ true words in this regard:
“And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness. “(5/116-119).
The Qur’an, moreover, pointed out that the descent of Jesus-peace be upon him-at the end of time will be a rectification to his message which suffered distortion and falsification:
“And when the son of Mary was presented as an example, immediately your people laughed aloud. And they said, “Are your gods better, or is he?” They did not present the comparison except for [mere] argument. But, [in fact], they are a people prone to dispute. Jesus was not but a servant upon whom We bestowed favor, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel. And if We willed, We could have made [instead] of you angels succeeding [one another] on the earth. And indeed, Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it, and follow Me. This is a straight path.” (43:57-61).
Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him- tells that:
“Jesus, son of Mary ,peace be upon him- will descend at the end of life. The Amir of Muslims will summon him to lead prayer but he will reply “No some you are the princes of yourselves as an honor to this nation”. Narrated by Muslim, No. 225.
The Qur’an also indicates that the closeness to the Lord and the remoteness from him are bound by following the true religion and belief. When Jews and Christians claimed that they were closer to Allah (God) than other nations, despite their deviation from the right path, the Qur’an responded to them by saying:
“But the Jews and the Christians say, “We are the children of Allah and His beloved.” Say, “Then why does He punish you for your sins?” Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination. ‘” (5:18)
The Qur’an stated that it has not come to destroy all that was mentioned in the previous scriptures of good values, but came to complete them and become the best and everlasting scripture for humanity till the end of life on earth:
“And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. “(5:48)
The Holy Qur’an’s wonders and miracles are not limited. It tells about the stages of man’s creation and destiny from creation to death:
“O People, if you should be in doubt about the Resurrection, then [consider that] indeed, We created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot, and then from a lump of flesh, formed and unformed – that We may show you. And We settle in the wombs whom We will for a specified term, then We bring you out as a child, and then [We develop you] that you may reach your [time of] maturity. And among you is he who is taken in [early] death, and among you is he who is returned to the most decrepit [old] age so that he knows, after [once having] knowledge, nothing”.(22:5).
The Qur’an employs reasonable evidence in strengthening its credibility in minds, drawing attention to the universe, the visible book (i.e. logical progression in knowing the Creator), and matching it to what is in the written book, that is the Qur’an itself. Allah says:
“And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect among every nation a witness over them from themselves. And We will bring you, [O Muhammad], as a witness over your nation. And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims. “(16:89).
The Qur’an includes rulings regarding the acts of worship so that humans can be in contact to their Lord; it gives mention to rulings regulating people’s relationship to each other like just punishment:
“And there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous. “(2:179)
It orders maintaining justice even with enemies:
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. ” (5:8)
The Qur’an also includes a code for ethics and transactions, including the prohibition of usury, cheating, theft, deception, hatred, and murder of innocent souls without right.
It enacts good ethics such as honesty, charity and righteousness, even with peaceful enemies. In his book Muhammad in Mecca Montgomery Watt, says: “In my opinion, whatever our religious position, we should consider the message of the Qur’an to be a creative breakthrough in Mecca. There is no doubt that there were problems that required solutions, and attempts to alleviate them arose, but it was impossible to move from these problems and crises to the message of the Qur’an by logical thinking. There is no doubt that the message of the Qur’an solved social problems, moral and intellectual, but not at once. An historian may suppose that Muhammad have brought such ideas solving serious problems by chance which is not possible. Neither empirical attempts nor active thought can explain to us as it should be the message of the Qur’an”.
the Qur’an refers to ethics in common with former nations (the Jews and the Christians). Allah says:
“And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah.” Then you turned away, except a few of you, and you were refusing.”(2:83)
When it forbids riba (Usury), he condemns the Jews for legalizing it and declares the deed to be unjust. In the Holy Quran Allah Almighty says:
“And [for] their taking of usury while they had been forbidden from it, and their consuming of the people’s wealth unjustly. And we have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.”(4:161)
“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing. “(5:48)
Dr. Wurrant, a US philosopher, historian and thinker says”…For fourteen centuries, the Qur’an has been preserved in the memory of Muslims, evoking their imagination, their morality, and advancing their knowledge. The Qur’an instills the easiest and least mystical beliefs into minds, avoiding the formalities rigid rites, and the doctrines most free of paganism and priesthood. It is accredited with raising the moral and cultural levels for Muslims. It enabled them to have established codes of social order and unity. It, also, encouraged them to have health-care rules and free their minds from myths and illusions, injustice and cruelty. It helped the slaves and weak among Muslims and maintained a degree of moderation and chastity not matched in any part of the world inhabited by the white man.. “.
The Qur’an Attracts the Minds of Thinkers with its Miraculous Nature
Irving , an American Orientalist says, “The Torah was one day the only regulating guide to man’s behavior. When Christ appeared, Christians followed the teachings of the Gospel, and now the Qur’an replaced it. The Qur’an was more comprehensive and detailed than the previous two scriptures. It rectified changes and distortions in those two books. It contains everything and all laws. It is the seal of heavenly scriptures. It calls for mercy, serenity and high moral doctrines”.