The Qur’an is the book of sacred Muslim scripture. It is believed to be the literal word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Jibril (known as Gabriel in Christianity and Judaism). Muhammad received the revelations that comprise the Qur’an intermittently between 610 and 632 CE, and his companions transcribed them. The first caliph, or head of the Muslim community, Abu Bakr, gathered these scattered transcriptions, and the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, compiled them between 650 and 656 CE into the standardized Qur’an that is still used today. The Qur’an is composed of poetic verse and divided into 114 chapters, or suras. It contains fundamental teachings about the oneness of God and God's will for humanity that address religious practices, family and societal obligations, and the organization of law and politics. Guidelines for correct behavior are often elaborated through historical narratives, including new accounts of Jewish and Christian sacred history.
For Muslims it is an article of faith that the Qur’an is God’s final and perfect revelation to humanity. Because God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad in Arabic, only the original Arabic is considered the true and sacred Qur’an. Its memorization and recitation figure prominently in Muslim religious practice. Traditionally, Muslims have held the Qur’an to be inimitable in its literary perfection—evidence of its divine origin and a standard for judging other Arabic texts. During the early centuries of Islam, scholars debated whether the Qur'an was created by God or was itself eternal and uncreated. The latter view won out, and predominates Islamic theology today. Among Muslims the conviction that the Qur'an is the divine and immutable word of God has discouraged the application of modern literary and historical critical analysis to the text.
back to top