What is the Quran?

The Quran is the Muslim scripture. It is the sacred book of Islam revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century.

The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by God through the agency of the angel Gabriel; this took place partly in Mecca, his hometown, and partly in Medina, where he succeeded in creating a state in an otherwise stateless tribal society.

The message was revealed in Arabic, the language of the people it was initially addressed to, even though the message was ultimately for the whole of humanity. The Quran specifically mentions that the Prophet Muhammad was the messenger to the whole of mankind, and that he is the last messenger to be sent. Thus, the Quran is the final message that supersedes and reiterates the basic religion God ordained for the Jews and the Christians, as well as the Muslims. The Quran is a continuation of the previous divine Messages that Allah sent to people via His Messengers throughout history. It is the grand finale of those divine Messages.

Today, the total number of Muslims in the world is over a billion, making up almost a fifth of the world’s population. Since the Quran was revealed in Arabic, Muslims believe that only in that language can its beauty and meaning be fully appreciated. For all Muslim communities, whatever their language and wherever they live, the Quran is their scripture. Muslims believe it contains the actual words of God and has remained unchanged for 1,400 years.

We will have primarily to point to the Quran to understand what the power of Islam is based on. It is the main source and criterion of Muslim faith and action. It communicates ethical obligation, external dynamics and religious depth but also quite specific convictions of faith, and ethical principles which have constantly been maintained: human responsibility before God, social justice, and Muslim solidarity.

The soul of a Muslim is woven of verses and expressions drawn from the Quran. Expressions such as “insha Allah” (If God wills), “al-Hamdulillah” (“All praise and thanks be to God) and “Bis-milla” (In the Name of God) all used by Arab as well as non-Arab Muslims alike, punctuate the entire life and determine the texture of the soul of a Muslim. Every legitimate action begins with a “Bis-milla” and ends with “al-Hamdulillah,” while the attitude toward the future is always conditioned by the awareness of “insha Allah”, for all depends on the Divine Will. These and many other formulas drawn from the Quran determine the attitude toward the past, the present, and the future and cover the whole life. The daily prayers that punctuate the Muslim’s entire life, from the age of puberty until death, are constituted of verses and chapters from the Quran, while Islamic Law has its root in the sacred text. Likewise, all branches of knowledge that can be legitimately called Islamic have their root in the Quran, which has served over the centuries as both the fountainhead and the guiding principle for the Islamic intellectual tradition.

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