The Qur’an is the complete book for mankind. It is the sacred book for Muslims and the main source of law in Islam. The whole of the Qur’an is from Allah. Each word of it is a revealed word. It was sent down to Muhammad (salla Allahu Alaihi wasallam) through the Angel Jibril (peace be upon Him). The Qur’an is in the Arabic language. It was revealed piecemeal and completed in the period of 23 years.
No other book in the world can match the Qur’an in respect of its recording and preservation. The astonishing fact about this book of Allah is that it has remained unchanged even to a dot over the last 1430 years . The Qur’an was recorded as soon as it was revealed under the personal supervision of Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu Alaihi wasallam). The Qur’an exists today in its original form unaltered and undistorted. It is a living miracle in the sense that it has survived so many centuries without suffering any change. The Quranic message goes beyond time and space. Every word of it –even the smallest particles and signs are intact in the hearts of thousands of Muslims who continue to memorize and recite it every day. No variation of text in it. You can check this for yourself by listening to the recitation of different Muslims from different parts of the world.
Allah Almighty has Himself taken the responsibility of preserving the Qur’an and He says: “Surely, We have revealed this reminder (Dhikr) and Lo, We verily are its Guardian” (15:9). This verse clearly mentions that God revealed the Qur’an and He will protect it.
The Qur’an is the living proof of the existence of Allah, the All-Powerful. It is also testimony of Islamic way of life for all times. Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, unlike other languages of other revealed books, is a living, dynamic and very rich language. Millions of people all over the world speak and use Arabic in their daily life. This is a further testimony to the unchanging character of the Qur’an.
The subject matter of the Qur’an is man and his ultimate goal in life. Its teachings cover all areas of this life and the life after death. It contains principles, doctrines and directions for every sphere of human activity. The theme of the Qur’an consists broadly of three fundamental beliefs –Tauhid (Oneness of God), Risalah (Prophethood) and Akhirah (life after death). Tauhid is the basic theme of the Qur’an. All the Prophets and messengers of God called people towards the oneness of Allah (Tauhid). The Qur’an gives the picturesque description of the paradise which will be rewarded to the truly obedient servants of Allah. And the severe punishment to be meted out to the evil doers has also been depicted vividly in the Qur’an.
The Qur’an urges people to follow its guidance and teachings. The success of human beings on this earth and in the life after death depends on the obedience to the Qur’anic teachings. We can perform our duties as the servants of Allah and His agents if we do not follow the Qur’an. The Qur’an urges us to work for the supremacy of Allah and for the removal of all evils.
The superb style of the Qur’an has a tremendous effect on its readers. It totally changes the pattern of life of those who believe and practice its teachings. It leaves a soothing effect on the mind of the reader, even if he does not fully understand its meaning.
The Qur’an has thirty parts (Ajza’u) and 114 chapters (Surahs) and 6236 verses (Ayahs) . Chapters reavealed when the Prophet was living in Makka are called Makki and those revealed when he was living in Madina are called Madani.
The Collection and Compilation of the Qur’an
Each and every word of the Qur’an was recorded as soon as it was revealed by Allah to the Prophet through Angel Jibril. The Prophet’s secretary, Zaid Bin Th’a bit (radhiaAllah anhu), used to record them exactly as the Prophet told him. He would read back to the Prophet what he had recorded.
Many of the early Muslims memorized the Qur’an immediately after the verses were revealed. Some of the famous Huffaz (plural: persons who memorized the Qur’an / singular: Hafiz ) were: Muadh Ibn Jabal, Ubadah Ibn Samit, Abu Darda, Abu Ayyub and Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (May God be pleased with them).
Shortly after the death of the Prophet (salla Allahu Alaihi wasallam) in 632 CE, Umar suggested to Caliph Abu Bakr (radhiaAllah anhu) that the Qur’an should be compiled in one volume. Up to then the Qur’an was written down in pieces in order as they were revealed. A committee was formed under the supervision of Zaid Bin Thabit to gather the scattered matter of the Qur’an into one volume.
Great care was taken to compile the Qur’an exactly as it had been recorded during the time of the Prophet (salla Allahu Alaihi wasallam). After careful checking and rechecking the work was completed. During the caliphate of Umar (radhiaAllah anhu), the copy was kept with Hafsah (radhiaAllah anhu) one of the widows of the Prophet (salla Allahu Alaihi wasallam).
Later, many schools were established for the teaching of the Qur’an throughout the Muslim territories. During Muar’s time, one such school in Damascus had 1600 pupils under Abu Darda (radhiaAllah anhu) one of the famous Huffaz.
As the Islamic state expanded, people in various places recited the Qur’an in their local dialect and there arose a possibility of confusion and misunderstand. To avoid this, Caliph Uth’am (radhiaAllah anhu) ordered the preparation of one standard version of the Qur’an to be written in the dialect of the tribe of Quraish. The Prophet (salla Allahu Alaihi wasallam) was from the Quraish tribe and it was felt that this was the right dialect for the recitation of the Qur’an. Zaid Bun Th’abit, Abdullah Ibn Az-zubair, Sa’ad Ibn Aas and Abdulrahman Ibn harith’ (radhiaAllah anhum) were asked to prepare copies from the copy of Hafsah (radhiaAllah anhu).
Copies were prepared and checked with the original. Standard copies were then sent to different part of the Islamic state. Not only were the copies sent, but a teacher was also sent with them to teach how to recite the Qur’an properly and correctly. This far action of Uth’man (radhiaAllah anhu) made the uniform recitation of the Qur’an possible.
The revelation of the Qur’an began in 610 CE at hira (a cave at Makkah). The first verses are:
“read in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clot of blood. Read and your Lord is most Generous. Who taught by the pen. Taught man what he did not know”. (96:1-5)
The Qur’an was revealed over a period of 22 years 5 months and 14 days. The longest chapter (surah) of the Qur’an is suratul baqarah (The cow) with 286 verses and the shortest chapter is suratul kauth’ar (The Abundance) which has three verses.