By Sajid Iqbal
1. What is the Quran?
The Quran is the Muslim holy book, ya’ know like the Bible is to Christianity and the Torah is to Judaism. It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through the Angel Gabriel. The Quran is the record of the exact words revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Did you know that the Quran is a 'first-person' revelation, and is the authentic expression of the divine voice of the Almighty? The Quran offers a revelation from the point of view of God Himself.
2. Why was it revealed?
The Quran was sent to the whole of mankind for all times and not just for Muslims. The Quran is an instruction manual for life. If you follow it you will never go wrong. God says in the Quran:
"This Quran guides to that which is most right, and gives good tidings to believers who do deeds of righteousness, that theirs will be a great reward." (Chapter 17, Verse 9)
3. How was it compiled?
The Quran was revealed in the cities of Mecca and Madinah over a period of 23 years, according to the needs of the time. Angel Gabriel brought it to the Prophet (pbuh) who would memorise it. Afterwards, it was preserved in two ways.
First, 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 Quran memorised at the time of the final revelation. The tradition of memorizing the entire Quran still continues, and a person who does so is called a Hafiz.
Second, the Quran was preserved through writing. Whenever any revelation took place, it was written at once on tablets, palm branches, shorn of leaves, or animal skin. This was done primarily by Zaid bin Thabit (ra), 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. Abu Bakr (ra), the first caliph of Islam, compiled the Quran, and Usman (ra), the third caliph, made numerous copies and sent one copy to each state capital.
4. Is the Quran we have today exactly the same as the words revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)?
In the time of the third Caliph Usman (ra), differences in reading the Quran amongst the various different tribes became obvious. So Usman (ra) made an official copy in the Quraishi dialect, the dialect in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) and was memorised by his companions.
Thus this compilation by Usman (ra)’s committee is not a different version of the Quran (like the Biblical versions) but the same original revelation given to the Prophet (pbuh) by one God, Allah.
You can find this original copy made by Usman (ra) in Tashkent in Uzbekistan and in Istanbul in Turkey today. Their text and arrangement can be compared, by anyone who cares to do so, with any other copy of the Quran, be it in print or written from any place or period of time. They will be found identical!
God says in the Quran:
"We have sent down the Reminder, and We will preserve it." (Chapter 15, Verse 9)
5. How is the Quran different to other books revealed by God?
Don’t forget none of the other scriptures were memorised word by word or written down word by word. These scriptures have many additions, deletions and plenty of errors from the time they were revealed to the present day. The Holy Quran is unique to all the other scriptures, also by the fact that the language in which it was revealed in is widely in use today and understood by millions of people. On the other hand, the languages in which the other scriptures were originally revealed are now dead and ancient, so as a result they are not in use today.
6. How do I know its from God and not written by man?
The Quran is scientifically proven to be the word of God. The Quran talks about astronomy, cosmology, astrophysics, cardiology, medicine, embryology and many field of science. Here are just a few examples:
human embryonic development (chapter 23, Verse 12-14), layers of the womb (Chapter 39, Verse 6), black hole (Chapter 39, Verse 68), speed of light (Chapter 10, Verse 5), cure of honey (Chapter 16, Verse 68-69), deep sea currents (Chapter 24, Verse 40), thread of the spider (Chapter 29, Verse 41), the speed of time (Chapter 70, Verse 4), fingerprints (Chapter 75, Verse 4), the phases of the moon (Chapter 36, Verse 39), reversal of gravity (Chapter 99, Verse 2), Earth’s movement in space (Chapter 27, Verse 88), life on other planets (Chapter 42, Verse 29), DNA (Chapter 10, Verse 34), the water cycle (Chapter 30, Verse 48)… and the list is endless.
Pick up the Quran right now and check out these amazing facts!
Now you tell me this: how the heck can a market trader from a small town with no formal education 1400 years ago, at a time when science and technology didn’t exist and the best form of transport was a camel, make such detailed and accurate statements about things which were only discovered in the last few decades? Simple: Coz it's not from man but it's from God!
God states in the Quran:
"And if you are in doubt about what We have revealed (the Quran) to Muhammad, then produce a chapter like it, and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides God if you are truthful." (Chapter 2, Verse 23-25)
7. Ain’t the Quran an outdated book though? Get with the times man!
The Quran is not confined by time, but is relevant to all ages, times and societies. The Quran was revealed by Allah who has knowledge of everything - the past and the future. The problems faced by societies and people who lived many years ago are problems that many of us face today.
If you actually read the Quran you’d find that it has the answers to many of the key issues that trouble mankind today such as racism, women’s rights, terrorism, war, famine, poverty etc. Till this very day scientists are discovering things that were mentioned in the Quran almost 1400 years ago! So it is anything but outdated!
8. What is the Quran all about then? How will I benefit from it?
The Quran teaches us how to live a family life, how to marry, who to get married to, what to eat and how to do business. It covers almost all branches of science. It talks about hell, heaven and the last day and about the life of the Prophets. The Quran outlines the rights of women, rights of parents, rights of the husband, rights of the wife, rights of neighbours, and the rights of children. Also the Quran has strict rules for governors so they can rule justly and strict rules for war and peace. The Quran answers the questions of life like evolution, purpose of creation, life after death… and much, much more.
The Quran states how you will benefit:
"This is the book (The Quran) in which there is no doubt, a guidance for those with Taqwa [God-conscious]." (Chapter 2, Verse 2)
The Prophet also mentioned how the Quran will benefit you:
"Read the Quran, for it will come as an intercessor for its reciters on the Day of Resurrection." (Muslim)
"The best of you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it." (Al Bukhari)
9. So does the Quran tell us what the purpose of life is?
Yes it does. For a Muslim the purpose of life is to worship Allah. As the Quran says:
"I have only created Jinns and humans, so that they worship Me." (Chapter 51, Verse 56)
That doesn't mean you just do your prayers and Bob's your uncle. Oh no, you have to live each and every aspect of your life according to the teachings of Islam. So if you have a Halal job - that's worship. Obeying your parents and elders - that's worship. Gaining an education - that's worship. Learning and spreading the Deen - that's worship. So basically, everything that you do that is Halal, and if your intention is to please your Creator then that is WORSHIP. This, my friend, is the purpose of life for a Muslim.
10. Doesn't the Quran promote violence and terrorism?
You can only say that if you haven't read the Quran. Coz when you read it, it’s crystal clear violence and terrorism are massive crimes in the eyes of God. Here is what God says about this:
"If anyone kills a person- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the whole of mankind." (Chapter 5, Verse 32)
In another place God says:
"Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching. And argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." (Chapter 16, Verse 125)
"Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor, for God can best protect both. Follow not the cravings of your hearts, lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to do justice, verily God is well acquainted with all that you do." Chapter 4, Verse 135)
11. Doesn't the Quran say women are secondclass citizens?
Come on dude, don't make me laugh now! Islam elevated the status of women 1400 years ago by declaring them equal to men, giving them the right to work, a right to an education to the highest level, the right to vote, the right to take public office, the right to join the army, the right to divorce, the right to inheritance, the right to marry who she wishes, and a lot more too!
"And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women." (Chapter 2, Verse 226)
"Enter into Paradise, you and your wives, with delight." (Chapter 43, Verse 70)
"Who so does that which is right, and believes, whether male or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life." (Chapter 16, Verse 97)
The Quran warns those men who oppress or illtreat women:
"O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them - except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and Allah will bring about through it a great deal of good." (Chapter 4, Verse 19)
12. What does the Quran say about racism?
The Quran's message and appeal is so massive because in the eyes of God the colour of your skin counts for absolutely nothing. God says:
"O Mankind! Most certainly, it is We (God Almighty) who have Created you all from a single (pair) of a male and a female. And it is We who have made you into nations and tribes, that you may recognise each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you." (Chapter 49, Verse 13)
In another verse God says:
"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours; verily in that are signs for those who know." (Chapter 30, Verse 22)
13. I don't understand Arabic, so can I read the Quran in another language?
Yes, the Quran is now translated in almost every language today.
14. Is an English translation of the Quran same as the original revelations in Arabic?
No matter how good the translation is it falls far short of the original. A translation may be helpful and necessary for non-Arabic speaking Muslims and others who are interested in the Holy Book, but it shouldn’t be confused with the Quran itself. So that means we should all try to learn Arabic I'm afraid!
15. What's the best English translation to read?
There are many translations in English but one of the best is The Noble Quran - A New Rendering of its Meaning in English by Abdal haqq and Aisha Bewley.
This is a translation into English of the Quran which is easy to read and which gives easy access to the meanings of the original Arabic without compromising them in any way. In short, it is a new rendering of its meaning which is not only trustworthy but also a pleasure to read.
Or if you love the English language and are looking for something more poetic and philosophical then Yusuf Ali's and Marmaduke Pickthall's translations will be your cup of tea. Sometimes these can be difficult to understand as they can be a bit Shakespearean if you know what I mean.
The Quran is like an ocean: You can stand at the edge looking over it and on the surface its very beautiful, but it’s not until you dive in and search that you find its hidden pearls and truly experience its wonder. So pick up your copy today and read it... trust me, it's better and more life changing than any Harry Potter book!