The Quran: Revelation, Purpose, Preservation and Themes, Emdad Khan
1.1 Quran Revelation
The Quran is the words of God, revealed to unlettered prophet Muhammad (Sas), at the age of 40 years, until he died at the age of 63 years through angel Jibrail duing long 23 years, as a guidance to mankind and as a distinction between right and wrong.. The first 5 verses of the Quran starting with the word Read (Iqra) was revealed in Ramadan, on 22 December 609 AD , when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was mediating in the cave Hira, near the holy city, Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
The Quran is the last scripture revealed by God, confirming the truth of earlier scriptures and refuting and correcting fabrications and additions which have crept into current day versions of earlier scriptures.
1.2 Meaning of the Word Quran
The Quran means recitation, a book which is recited, memorized and put into practice as the life guide by millions and millions, in the past, present and in future, all over the world. The word, Quran appears 70 times  in the Quran itself. It is also known as Kitab (Book), Ayah (Sign),Surah (Scripture), Wahy, (Revelation),Tanzil (Sent Down), Zikr (Remembrance), Ummu Al-Kitab (Mother Book), Al-Huda, (the Guide), Al-Hikmah (the Wisdom) and Al-Furqan (Criterion to determine Right & Wrong, Truth & Falsehood).
1.3 Speech of God in Spoken form
No human speech can be comparable to it, in form or in content or in linguistic presentation. The Quran, in 5 different verses, challenges mankind to produce something similar to the Quran . “And if you are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a surah of the like thereof, and call your witness beside God if you are truthful. (Al-Quran, 2.23)
1.4 Guarantee of the preservation without corruption.
The Quran itself provides us with the test of its authenticity and offers itself challenges against itself to prove its veracity.
The Quran provides many scientific evidence, which are only now known to human being, that its ultimate author is the Creator Himself, to convince the human being, that he exists and the Quran is His message to humanity.
“Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Zikr and surely, We will guard it (Al-Quran, 15.9). Zayed ibn Thabit, Ubai ibn Ka’b, Abdulalh ibn Masud, and Ali Ibn Abu Talib as scribes, wrote down the revelations . The prophet (PBUH) encouraged the companions to recite, memorize, learn and teach the Quran. Till today millions of Muslims memorized the whole Quran. Every Muslim memorizes part of the Quran to recite from memory in five daily prayers. When performing Salah together, during reciting the Quran, if the imam makes a mistake, the listeners promptly rectify him. The prophet (PBUH), in Ramadan during Tarawee, with the companions, used to recite and listen to the Quran. This tradition is followed by millions and millions of Muslims every year during Ramadan.
1.5 Compilation in Book Form:
When a large number of Huffaz died in a battle with Musalima Kajjab, the first caliph Abu Bakr (RA), assigned Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) to collect the Quran in written form in one volume. Zayd with Ubi ibn Kaab (RA) and others collected the suras from companions written in skin, palm and date leaf stalks, thin stones; verified with the recitations by Huffaz. The complete hand written and authentic copy was with Abu Bakr (RA). After Abu Bakr (RA), it was with Ummul Momenin Hafsa (RA), daughter of 2nd caliph, Omer ibn Khattab (RA).
In about 650 AD, the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (RA), with the spread of Islam, discovered minor difference in circulating copies of the Quran in Iran, Syria, Iraq and North Africa. To preserve the sanctity of the Quran, he ordered a committee headed by Zayd (RA) to use Abu Bakr’s copy and prepare a standard copy of the Quran .
The Quran compiled by Uthman (RA), 20 years after the death of prophet Muhammad (PBUH), became the standard, from which copies were distributed throughout the cities of the Muslim world.The present form of the Quran is accepted by Muslim scholars (Shia and Sunni) to be the original version compiled by Abu Bakr (RA).
1.6 Order of Arrangement of Chapters:
The Quran contains 114 chapters; divided as Mekkan or Medinan based on, revelation before or after the migration of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Medina. Each chapter derives its title from a name or word or quality discussed in the chapter. The chapters are arranged approximately in order of decreasing size but not connected to the order of revelation. Each chapter except the 9th chapter, Al-Taubah, starts with the Bismillah Hir Rahmaneer Rahim.
1.7 Language: Prose & Poetry
Linguistic Style, Poetry, Prose and Repetition: The Quran has been described as “rhymed prose” as its chapters are both poetry and prose , more poetic in some parts and more prose-like in others. For example, Chapter 112, Al-Ikhlas, a small chapter has rhythm like a poetry.
Another example, the chapter 2, Al-Baqara, the largest chapter, has prose like format.
The new comers to the Quran, may feel, the Chapters have no beginning, middle, or end . Some others may feel, the verses in chapters have lack of continuity, absence of any chronological order and presence of repetition [9, 10]. Some phrases are repeated, such as Allahu laa ilaha illa Huwa or Khalqa assamawati wal–ardi; have definite purpose with the theme of the Quran. In the Quran, some stories of earlier tribes or prophets, for reasons of learning and lessons, were revealed in piecemeal at different times during a long 23 years but the stories are consistent.
1.8 Dialogue in Spoken Language
The Quran was revealed as a dialogue in spoken language in classic Arabic. Many converts to Islam and non-Arabs do not easily understand the Quranic Arabic. They do not easily grasp the meaning and context that were clear to early Muslims fluent in Arabic; rather they find difficulties in reconciling apparent conflict of themes in the Quran .
To facilitate understanding and interpretation of the Quran, scholars has generated a Quranic science, known as Tafsir; a huge body with commentary, explanation, clarification and significance of the verses of the Quran.
1.10 Contents and Themes:
The Quran contains roughly 6,300 verses. According to scholars, only 500 verses describe the Islamic law such as Salah, Zakah, Fasting, Halal, Haram, ethics, morality, justice, etc. The remaining 5,800 verses rotates on 6 major themes. God is the author of the Quran, spoken in classic Arabic and He directly address the human being.
The central themes of the Quran are
- the existence, believe and introduction of the oneness of the unique God and
- the resurrection (life after death), the day of judgement at the end of time,
- final destination of heaven or hell fire,
- good & evil, right & wrong, reward & punishment, ethics & justice
- mankind, his origin, purpose of life, birth, death, destiny and final destination, and facing the Al-mighty God on the day of Judgement,
- Stories of 25 prophets sent to past tribes and nations.
(7) Finally laws of Islamic rituals and code of morality & ethics.