Can you describe the Qur'an with its general features?
The Qur�an consists of the rhythmic verses, phrases, sentences,
and chapters relayed by the Prophet as they were revealed to him by God, and
which he proclaimed as the everlasting miracle testifying to his Prophethood.
He challenged the Arabs of his time who doubted its Divine origin, as well as
all unbelieving Arabs and non-Arabs who would come later.
Earlier Divine Revelations
God revealed His books to His Prophets before Prophet
Muhammad in exactly the same way. God informs us in the Qur�an of some of them:
the Pages of Abraham, the Torah, the Zabur (the Psalms), and the Injil (the
Gospel). We do not know the names of the books given to other Prophets, and
therefore cannot say with certainty whether they were originally revealed books
These earlier Divine books were sent down in now-dead
languages that only a few people today claim to understand. Given this, even
if these books still existed in their original and unadulterated form, it would
be virtually impossible to understand them correctly and to interpret and implement
their injunctions. Fur-thermore, as the original texts of most of these earlier
Divine books have been lost with the passage of time, only their translations
exist today. Obviously a translation can never be the same as the original.
Therefore even if they had not been corrupted, we still would not have them
in their original form. The Qur�an, on the other hand, exists in its original
language, which is still spoken and understood by millions of people.
The movement of returning to the Qur�an, which began about
a century ago, continues with its ups and downs. The Qur�an was revealed to
Prophet Muhammad over a 23-year span and mostly on different occasions. This
last �version� of the Divine Word, which was planted in the Last Prophet as
a seed, grew swiftly and raised on its stem, put out its shoots, came to leaf,
blossomed, and yielded fruit in all aspects of life. Almost one third of the
world lived a peaceful life under its calm, serene shade for many centuries.
However, the Qur�an was veiled by the neglect and unfaithfulness
of its �friends� and the pitiless hostility of its �enemies.� As a result, the
rapacious appetite of the modern Prometheus produced by scientific materialism
has engulfed the globe like a poisonous octopus. After a few centuries of misery
in the clutches of this octopus, Muslims all over the Muslim world felt the
dire need of returning to the Qur�an and found that this Word of God was as
fresh as when it was first revealed and is �growing younger as time gets older.�
The Muslims� very essence was deeply injured by this poison,
and they and other people are looking for an immediate cure. Only the Word of
God has this cure, but only �doctors,� upon whom humanity�s future depends,
can present it. If the Qur�an had been understood fully and accurately and practiced
effectively, these modern poisons would have found only a few Muslim customers
even it they had been presented in golden cups. Unfortunately, these poisons
are easily injected into Muslim minds, and some so-called Muslim �doctors� who
should have defied them with the Qur�an took them as if they were the antidote.
They even have identified the true cure�the Qur�an�with them and, furthermore,
have ventured to test it in the laboratory tubes where the poisons are produced.
Understanding the Qur�an
The first step to understanding the Qur�an is to understand
Arabic, the language in which it was revealed, for language has the same meaning
for a text as bodily features have for a person. The essential existence of
a text lies in its meaning, just as a person�s essential existence lies in his
or her spirit. Bodily features are the externalized form assumed by the spirit,
and therefore serve as a mirror in which to see into his or her character. In
the same way, the Qur�an�s language and styles are the form of its meaning and
cannot be separated from it.
The second step is to penetrate its meaning, which requires
living it. Although its language constitutes its outer form and structure, and
therefore is very important in penetrating its meaning, restricting its understanding
to linguistic understanding means restricting oneself to form or formalism.
One can penetrate the Qur�an�s meaning, in which its essential existence lies,
through purifying the �heart� (the spirit�s seat) by avoiding sin and evil,
performing the necessary acts of worship, and living a pious life.
In the words of the late Professor Haluk Nurbaki, a Turkish
scientist, the Qur�an is �like a rose that continuously grows petals in the
womb of time.� As science develops and contributes to penetrating its depths
of meaning, the Qur�an blooms to an even greater extent and grows younger and
fresher. Thus, having sufficient knowledge of such topics as the abrogation
of laws, laws and principles dependent on certain conditions, and unconditioned,
general, and particular rules and the occasions on which the verses were revealed
is not enough; the general principles of natural science also must be known.
Since Prophet Muhammad received the Qur�an and taught and practiced it in his
daily life as an infallible authority, knowledge of his Sunna, his practice
of the Qur�an, and his example of living Islam also are indispensable to understanding
The Qur�an is not a book of science, history, or morality.
Nor is it a book in the literal sense of the word. It is a book to be practiced,
for it came to guide people to truth, to educate them intellectually and spiritually,
and to govern their individual and social life. Therefore, it can be understood
only through daily practice. Remember that the Qur�an was not revealed all at
once, but over a 23-year period on many diverse occasions. Separating the Qur�an
and practical life means reducing it to the status of an ordinary book to be
read. It does not unfold itself to any significant degree to those who consider
it to be no more than this.
Moreover, the Qur�an is a medium-sized book that, at first
glance, contains repetition. However, it declares that everything wet or dry
is in a Manifest Book (itself) (6:59). A Prophetic saying states that it contains
the history of previous peoples, tidings of those to come after its revelation,
and solutions to disagreements among people. It addresses and satisfies all
levels of understanding and knowledge, regardless of time and place.
Hundreds of interpreters have written commentaries on
it during the 14 centuries of its existence, and none have claimed to understand
all of its various aspects and meanings. Thousands of jurists have inferred
laws from it and based their reasoning upon it, but none have asserted that
they have inferred all of the laws contained therein or understood all of the
reasons behind its injunctions and prohibitions. All pure and exacting scholars
who �marry� mind and heart, all revivers (the greatest, saintly scholars who
come when needed to revive and restore Islam) find their ways in it, all saints
derive their sources of inspiration and ways of purification from it, and all
authentic Sufi paths depend upon it. And yet, like a source of water that increases
as it flows, it remains as if untouched.
The Qur�an�s miraculous eloquence gives it this depth
and richness of meaning. Its creative and artistically rich style is only one
element on which its eloquence is based. It frequently speaks in parables and
adopts a figurative, symbolic rhetoric using metaphors and similes. This is
natural, for the Qur�an contains knowledge of all things and addresses all levels
of understanding and knowledge.
Ignoring this symbolic and artistic style caused the Zahiriya
movement to appear. These people were content with a superficial, narrow-minded
understanding of the Qur�an�s outward meaning. At the other extreme, the Batiniya
(esotericism) movement searched for the whole truth in symbols and neglected
the expressions� outer meaning. Both currents are harmful, for the middle way
is always preferable.
Defining the Qur�an
According to most scholars, the word Qur�an is an infinitive
form of the verb qa-ra-e (reading or reciting) and so literally means
a thing recited by adding letters and words to one another. Others say it comes
from another infinitive, qar�� (to collect), and so the Qur�an means �that which
collects.� �Abdullah ibn �Abbas narrates that qur�an in: It is for Us to collect
it and promulgate it (75:17) means being collected and established in the heart.
For this reason, some assert that since the Qur�an collects and contains the
�fruit� of all previous Scriptures and all knowledge, it is called Qur�an.
According to Abu Musa al-Ash�ari and those sharing his
opinions, Qur�an is derived from the verb qa-ra-ne (adding and attaching
one thing to another) and, since it consists of chapters and verses arranged
together, it was named Qur�an. Other scholars, among them Imam Shafi�i, affirm
that qur�an was not derived from any word, but rather is the proper name given
to the Book that God revealed to His Last Messenger.
The Qur�an is the Word of God and therefore eternal (having
no beginning in time) and uncreated. But as a book conveyed to the Prophet by
Archangel Gabriel and composed of letters and words, recited, touched, and listened
to, it is not eternal.1
The general definition of the Qur�an is as follows: The
Qur�an is the miraculous Word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad, written down
and transmitted to succeeding generations by many reliable channels, and whose
recitation is an act of worship and obligatory in daily prayers.2
The Qur�an describes some of its features as follows:
The month of Ramadan in which the Qur�an
was sent down as a guidance for humanity and clear proofs of the Guidance and
the Criterion. (2:185)
This Qur�an could not have been invented
(by anyone) apart from God, but confirms what was (revealed) before it, a fuller
explanation of the Book�wherein there is no doubt�from the Lord of the Worlds.
We have sent it as an Arabic Qur�an that
you may understand and use your reason. (12:2)
This Qur�an 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. (17:9)
And in truth We have made the Qur�an easy
to reflect and take lesson, but will any take heed? (54:17)
That this is a noble Qur�an, in a hidden,
guarded Book. (56:77-78)
The Qur�an has other titles, each of which describe one
of its aspects and thus can be regarded as one of its attributes, such as: the
Book, the Criterion, the Remembrance, the Advice, the Light, the Guidance, the
Healer, the Noble, the Book in Pairs, the Mother of the Book, the Truth, the
Admonishment, the Good Tiding, the Book Gradually Revealed, the Knowledge, and
The Qur�an is the book that Prophet Muhammad conveyed
to humanity as God�s Word and that testifies to his Prophethood. Being his greatest
miracle, it challenges the Arabs of that time and all people to come until the
Last Day to produce even a single chapter like it. The Qur�an is unparalleled
among Divine Scriptures as regards its preservation and transmittal to later
generations without the slightest alteration. There is no difference among the
copies of the Qur�an that have circulated throughout the world since its first
Concerning the Qur�an, Prophet Muhammad says:
The Qur�an distinguishes between truth and falsehood.
It is not for fun, for those who reject it will be punished. It contains the
history of previous peoples and tidings of those who will come later, and
rules on people�s disagreements. Those who look elsewhere for guidance are
led astray by God. It is God�s strong rope, the wise instruction, and the
Straight Path. It is a book that desires cannot deviate or tongues confuse,
one that does not bore scholars or wear them out due to repetition, and one
possessing uncountable admirable aspects. All who hear it say: �We heard a
wonderful Qur�an guiding to righteousness, and so we believe in it.� Those
who base their words on it speak truly. Whoever judges by it judges justly,
and whoever calls to it calls to truth.3
We close this topic with Said Nursi�s definition:
The Qur�an is an eternal translation of the great book
of the universe and the everlasting translator of the various �languages�
in which Divine laws of the creation and operation of the universe are �inscribed�;
the interpreter of the books of the visible, material world and the world
of the Unseen; the discoverer of the immaterial treasuries of the Divine Names
hidden on Earth and in the heavens; the key to the truths which lie beneath
the lines of events; the tongue of the Unseen world in the visible, material
one; the treasury of the favors of the All-Merciful One and the eternal addresses
of the All-Glorified One coming from the world of the Unseen beyond the veil
of this visible world; the sun of the spiritual and intellectual world of
Islam and its foundation and plan; the sacred map of the worlds of the Hereafter;
the expounder, the lucid interpreter, articulate proof, and clear translator
of the Divine �Essence,� Attributes, Names and acts; the educator and trainer
of the world of humanity and the water and light of Islam, which is the true
and greatest humanity; the true wisdom of humankind and their true guide leading
them to happiness; and for human beings it is both a book of law, a book of
prayer, a book of wisdom, a book of worship and servanthood to God, and a
book of commands and invitation, a book of invocation, and a book of reflection,
a holy book containing books for all the spiritual needs of humankind, and
a heavenly book which, like a sacred library, contains numerous booklets from
which all the saints and the eminently truthful, and all the purified and
discerning scholars have derived their ways peculiar to each, and which illuminates
each of these ways and answers the needs of all those with different tastes
and temperaments who follow them.
Having come from the Supreme Throne of God, and originated
in His Greatest Name, and issued forth from the most comprehensive rank of
each Name, the Qur�an is both the word of God as regards His being the Lord
of the worlds, and His decree in respect of His having the title of the Deity
of all creatures, and a discourse in the name of the Creator of all the heavens
and Earth, and a speech from the perspective of the absolute Divine Lordship,
and an eternal sermon on behalf of the universal Sovereignty of the All-Glorified
One, and a register of the favors of the All-Merciful One from the viewpoint
of the all-embracing Mercy, and a collection of messages some of which begin
with a cipher, and a holy book which, having descended from the surrounding
circle of the Divine Greatest Name, looks over and surveys the circle surrounded
by the Supreme Throne of God.
It is because of all these that the title of �Word of
God� has been, and will always be, given to the Qur�an most deservedly. After
the Qur�an come the Scriptures and Pages which were sent to some other Prophets.
As for the other countless Divine words, some of them are conversations in
the form of inspirations coming as the particular manifestations of a particular
aspect of Divine Mercy, Sovereignty, and Lordship under a particular title
with particular regard. The inspirations coming to angels, human beings and
animals vary greatly with regard to their universality or particularity.
The Qur�an is a heavenly book, which contains in brief
the Scriptures revealed to the previous Prophets in different ages, and the
content of the treatises of all the saints with different temperaments, and
the works of all the purified scholars each following a way particular to
himself; the six sides of which are bright and absolutely free of the darkness
of doubts and whimsical thoughts; whose point of support is with certainty
Divine Revelation and the Divine eternal Word, whose aim is manifestly eternal
happiness, and whose inside is manifestly pure guidance.
And it is surrounded and supported: from above by the
lights of faith, from below by proof and evidence, from the right by the submission
of the heart and the conscience, and from the left by the admission of reason
and other intellectual faculties. Its fruit is with absolute certainty the
mercy of the Most Merciful One, and Paradise; and it has been accepted and
promoted by angels and innumerable people and jinn through the centuries.4
How about the Qur�an�s style?
The Qur�ans matchless style
As the Qur�an deals with all issues of theological value
and surpasses all scriptural records of pre- or post-Islamic ages in the abundant
variety of its contents, its approach, presentation, and solution are unique.
Rather than dealing with a topic in the usual systematic manner employed by
theologians or apostolic writers, it expressly says that it has its own special
manifold method: tasrifi. In other words, it shows variety, changes topics,
shifts between subjects, reverts to the previous one, and deliberately and purposefully
repeats the same subject in unique rhythmic and recitative forms to facilitate
understanding, learning, and memorization: See how
We display the revelations and signs so that they may understand and discern
The Qur�an shows the universe�s order. As almost
all types or varieties of existing things present themselves to us side by side
or mingled, the Qur�an displays varieties linked together with a specific rhythm
to show the signs of God�s Unity, even while acknowledging that such a style
will cause some opponents to doubt its Divine authorship (6:106). It also explains
why it does this: to encourage the human intellect to reflect on unity in variety
and harmony in diversity. In fact, each chapter deals with numerous topics in
various ways, a characteristic that only adds to its unique beauty and matchless
eloquence. An attentive reciter or intelligent audience can enjoy such rhythmical
pitches to the extent that the Qur�an itself declares:
God has sent down the most beautiful message
in the form of a book, consistent in itself, in pairs, whereat do shudder the
skins of those who are in awe before their Lord, and then their skins and hearts
become pliant to the remembrance of God. Such is God�s guidance: He guides with
it whomsoever He wills. And (as for) those whom God allows to go astray, there
is no guide for them. (39:23)
In addition, the Qur�an�s verses and chapters are not
arranged chronologically. Some verses revealed and placed together are preceded
and followed by other verses. Some chapters and verses are lengthy; others are
short. This �inconsistent� arrangement is an aspect of its miraculousness and
also one of the most important reasons why many Orientalists and their Muslim
imitators criticize it.
The Qur�an exhibits the universe�s order. Just as there
is both a whole�part and holistic�partial (or universal�particular) relation
among its contents, the same relation is found in the Qur�an. In other words,
a body is a whole consisting of parts (e.g., the head, arms, legs, and other
organs). Any part cannot wholly represent the body, although each part is a
whole in itself, because the whole body cannot be found in any of its parts.
Humanity and all species are holistic or universal, for each species is composed
of the members, each of which contains all features of the species and therefore
represents the species. Each person is an exact specimen of humanity in structure.
In the same way, each Qur�anic verse is a whole in itself
and has an independent existence. It can be located anywhere in the Qur�an without
harming either the composition or the meaning. In addition, there is an intrinsic
relation among all verses or between one verse and all the others. Bedi�zzaman
Said Nursi writes that:
The verses of the Qur�an are like stars in a sky among
which there are visible and invisible ropes and relationships. It is as if
each Qur�anic verse has an eye that sees most of the verses and a face that
looks towards them, so that it extends to them the immaterial threads of relationship
to weave a fabric of miraculousness. A single sura can contain the whole �ocean�
of the Qur�an, in which the whole universe is contained. A single verse can
comprehend the treasury of that sura. It is as if most verses are small suras,
and most suras a little Qur�an. In fact, the whole Qur�an is contained in
Surat al-Fatiha, which itself is contained in the Basmala.5
At first glance, this unique tasrifi style sometimes seems
to produce contradictory verses. But this is not the case, for the Qur�an is
like an organism having all of its parts interlinked. As a result of this whole�part
arrangement and the holistic�partial relationship among verses, a correct understanding
of a verse often depends upon a complete understanding of the Qur�an. This is
another unique characteristic, another aspect of its miraculousness, and another
sign of its Divine authorship.
This characteristic is very important in Qur�anic interpretation,
for the Qur�an is the written counterpart of the universe and humanity. In addition,
the Qur�an, the universe, and humanity are three �copies� of the same book,
the first being the �revealed and written universe and humanity,� and the second
and third each being a �created Qur�an.� Given this, the Qur�an also teaches
us how to view humanity and the universe. Therefore, any apparent contradiction
among its verses is really due to the reader�s misunderstanding. One whose being
is unified with the Qur�an sees no contradiction, as he or she is free of all
contradictions. If people view the Qur�an in light of their particular worlds,
which are full of contradictions, of course they will see contradictions. This
is why those who seek to approach the Qur�an first have to be free of all contradictions.
Arabic, the language of revelation, is the Qur�an�s outer
body. Religion does not consist only of philosophy or theology, but is a method
of unifying all dimensions of our being. Therefore, Arabic is an essential,
inseparable element of the Qur�an. It was chosen as the language of revelation
not only so that the Arabs of that time would understand it, but because a universal
religion requires a universal language.
The Qur�an views the world as the cradle of human brotherhood
and sisterhood. It seeks to unite all races, colors, and beliefs as brothers
and sisters and servants of the One God. Its language is a basic factor that
helps people ponder religious realities and unite all dimensions of their being
according to Divine standards. Translations cannot be recited in prescribed
prayers, for no translations can be identical with the original language. Without
Arabic, one can be a good Muslim but can understand only a little of the Qur�an.
The Qur�an is the source of all knowledge in Islam, be
it religious or spiritual, social, scientific, moral, legal, or philosophical.
As the guide to all truth, it has four main purposes: demonstrating God�s Existence
and Unity, establishing Prophethood and the afterlife, promulgating the worship
of God, and setting forth the essentials of justice. Its verses mainly dwell
on these purposes, and thus contain creedal principles, rules governing human
life, detailed information on the Resurrection and the afterlife, how to worship
God, morality, direct or indirect information on some scientific facts, principles
of civilizational formation and decay, historical outlines of previous civilizations,
and so on.
The Qur�an is a source of healing, as applying it in daily
life cures almost all psychological and social illnesses, as well as a
cosmology, epistemology, ontology, sociology, psychology, and law revealed to
regulate human life for all people, regardless of time or place. In fact, the
Prophet declares: �The Qur�an is more lovable to God than the heavens and Earth
and those in them.�
Recording and preserving the Qur�an
God Almighty has sent more than 100,000 Prophets to humanity.
Islam defines Prophets as those who came with important tidings (�the tidings
of religion�) concerning belief in God�s Existence and Unity, angels, Prophethood�s
mission and Prophets, Revelation and Divine Scriptures, the Resurrection and
afterlife, and Divine Destiny (including human free will). The tidings also
include offering a life based on this belief, promises related to accepting
belief, and warnings related to rejecting it. The frequent corruption of religion
by various communities has caused Prophets to be sent to revive and restore
it, and also to amend some rules or bring new laws concerning daily life. Such
Prophets usually were given a Book and are known as Messengers, the greatest
of whom are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (42:13).
The name of the religion that God Almighty revealed through
all Messengers is Islam. Just as the laws ordering and operating the universe
remain the same and constant, and just as all people have the same basic characteristics,
essential needs, and final destination regardless of when and where they live,
it is natural for religion to be based on the same essentials of belief, worship,
and morality. As this religion gradually was corrupted, altered, or contaminated
with borrowings from false creeds, God sent different Messengers at different
Muhammad was sent as the last Messenger and with the perfected
form of the Divine religion (Islam). God protects this final and perfected religion
by promising to preserve the Qur�an and telling the Prophet to live his life
by the rules that He revealed to him (known as the Sunna): Without doubt,
We sent down the Message and We will preserve it
(15:9). People who followed the messages brought by Moses and by Jesus
later on called them Judaism and Christianity, respectively, whereas Islam has
retained its original and God-given name.
In this world, as God Almighty acts behind natural or
material causes, He also uses causes or means to preserve the Qur�an. One of
these is having the Qur�an written down during the Prophet�s lifetime and under
his direct supervision so that nothing could be deleted, added, or changed.
All copies of the Qur�an in existence during the 14 centuries of Islam are exactly
the same. Unlike other earlier Scriptures, the Qur�an has been preserved in
its original form or text and in the language in which it was revealed. Thus
the following points are of considerable significance:
The Qur�an was revealed in parts. God Almighty undertook
its preservation, due recitation, and its part�s arrangement. He revealed to
His Messenger where each revealed verse and chapter was to be placed:
Do not move your tongue (with the revelation)
so that you may hasten (committing) it (to memory). It is for Us to collect
it and to promulgate it. But when We have promulgated it, follow its recital
(as promulgated). Then it is also for us to explain it. (75:16-19)
High above all (considerations) is God, the
Sovereign, the Truth. Do not show haste to receive and recite the Qur�an before
its revelation to you is completed; but rather say: �Lord, increase me in knowledge.�
The Almighty emphasizes that no falsehood can touch the
Qur�an or cast doubt on its authenticity:
These are the people who rejected the Message
when it came to them. But the fact is that this is a noble, mighty Book. No
falsehood can approach it from before or behind. It is a Revelation being sent
down from One All-Wise, All-Praised. (41:41-42)
Once a year, the Messenger reviewed all that had been
revealed up to that point with Archangel Gabriel. In his last year, after the
revelation was completed, Gabriel came twice for this purpose. The Messenger
concluded from this that he would die soon.6
From the very beginning, the Companions paid the utmost
attention to the Qur�an and tried their best to understand, memorize, and learn
it. In fact, the Qur�an ordered them to do so: When
the Qur�an is recited, give ear to it and pay heed, that you may obtain mercy
Only a few people could read and write when the Revelation
began. After the Battle of Badr (624), the first military encounter between
the Muslims and the Makkan polytheists, Makkan prisoners of war were freed only
after they taught ten Madinan Muslims how to read and write. The beneficiaries
of this policy then tried to memorize the Qur�an for several reasons: reciting
some verses is obligatory during the prescribed prayers; the Qur�an was very
original for them; it purified their minds of prejudice and wrong assertions,
their hearts of sins, and illuminated them; and it built a society out of illuminated
minds and purified hearts.
To understand the extent of their effort and the number
of those who did so, 70 Companions who had memorized it were martyred at Bi�r
al-Ma�una (625). During the Prophet�s lifetime, another 70 or so were martyred.7
When the Prophet died, several Companions knew the Qur�an by heart, among them
�Ali ibn Abi Talib, �Abdullah ibn Mas�ud, �Abdullah ibn �Abbas, �Abdullah ibn
�Amr, Hudayfa ibn al-Yaman, Salim, Mu�adh ibn Jabal, Abu al-Darda, Ubayy ibn
Ka�b, and �A�isha and Umm Salama (two of the Prophet�s wives). New converts
or immigrants to Madina were sent to Companions to learn the Qur�an. As the
subsequent reciting raised a humming noise, the Prophet asked them to lower
their voices so that they would not confuse each other.8
The Qur�an was revealed piecemeal and mostly on certain
occasions. Whenever a verse, chapter, or group of verses was revealed, it was
memorized by many Companions and written down by scribes chosen by the Prophet
specifically for that purpose. The Messenger also told them where to place it
in the Qur�an.9 Known as the Scribes of the Revelation, these 40 or so Companions
also copied the pieces for themselves and preserved them.10
At the time of the Prophet�s death, �Ali ibn Abi Talib,
Mu�adh ibn Jabal, Abu al-Darda, Ubayy ibn al-Ka�b, and other Companions already
had assembled these portions in book form. �Ali arranged them chronologically.11
After the Battle of Yamama (633), during which around 700 memorizers were martyred,
�Umar ibn al-Khattab asked Caliph Abu Bakr about compiling an �official� version.
Zayd ibn Thabit, a leading scholar and memorizer, was chosen for the task. After
a meticulous work, he prepared the official collection (mushaf).12
The Almighty declares: It is for Us to collect it and
to promulgate it (75:17). The Qur�an�s verses and chapters were arranged and
collected according to the Prophet�s instructions [while he was still alive],
which were guided by the Revelation. The official version was formed after the
Battle of Yamama. When a disagreement appeared over the pronunciation of certain
words, the formal version was copied and sent to important centers during the
reign of Caliph �Uthman ibn �Affan (644-56).13
One of the foremost reasons for the Qur�an�s continued
incorruptibility is that it has been preserved in its original language. No
one in the Muslim world has ever thought to supersede it with a translation,
and so it was never exposed to imprecise or mistaken translations, or to additions
In conclusion, the Qur�an that we hold in our hands today
is the same Qur�an that the Prophet received from God. Its authenticity and
genuineness cannot be contested. No Muslim scholar of any standard has ever
doubted this, and none have questioned that the Prophet spoke every word that
we find in the Qur�an today.
Some may ask why the Almighty did not preserve other Scriptures.
First, He has preknowledge of everything and thus knew and predetermined that
human well-being and happiness would require a final Prophet. He chose Prophet
Muhammad for this position. Through him, He perfected Islam so that it would
address all levels of knowledge of understanding and solve all human problems
until the Last Day. As this would obviate the need for another Prophet to revive
or restore the religion, He preserved the Qur�an. Second, it is not a sign of
God�s favor to Muslims to preserve the Qur�an. Rather, as His predetermination
includes human free will, He knew that Muslims would be devoted to their Book
more than any other people would be devoted to their own. He has preserved the
Qur�an by creating the means for its preservation.
How and why does the Qur�an
challenge all humanity and jinn
to bring the like of a single verse of its?
Matchless eloquence and profound meaning
The Qur�an�s verses, linked with rhythm and symmetry of
form to show the signs of Divine Unity, stir our emotions and intellect to reflect
upon unity in variety and harmony in diversity. Each chapter has a particular
rhythm and presents several topics in various ways. Such a style discloses a
unique beauty with matchless eloquence. Attentive reciters and intelligent listeners
experience what the Qur�an describes:
God has sent down the fairest discourse as
a Book, some parts of which confirm and resemble others, whereat shiver the
skins of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts soften
to the remembrance of God. That is God�s guidance. (39:23)
Although the Arabs of the Prophet�s time were highly intelligent
and well-versed in poetry and eloquence, they could not produce anything like
the Qur�an. Likewise, none of the countless literary figures who have lived
since then has duplicated it. In fact, the Prophet challenged his contemporaries
and humanity at large, regardless of time or place, to create even one chapter
like those of the Qur�an. That they have failed to do so is a proof of the Qur�an�s
If you doubt concerning what We have sent
down to Our servant (Muhammad), bring a chapter like it, and call your witnesses,
apart from God, if you are truthful. (2:23)
This Qur�an cannot be forged by (any one)
but (is a revelation from) God confirming (the Scriptures) that went before
it and (the clearest) explanation of the Book, wherein is no doubt, from the
Lord of all being. Or do they say: �He (Muhammad) has forged it.� Say: �Then
bring a chapter like it and call on whomsoever you can (to help you), apart
from God (for He has sent it down), if you are truthful. (10:37-38)
Say: �(Even) if humanity and jinn united
to produce the like of this Qur�an, they will never be able to do so, even though
some of them help the others.� (17:88)
No one has produced a composition that can equal a chapter
of the Qur�an, even the smallest one (Surat al-Kawthar), and no
one will ever be able to do so. Those who oppose Islam always have taken up
arms. But their attempts have come to naught, with the sole exception of Andalusia
(Islamic Spain). As one Muslim scholar points out, if people could defeat the
Qur�an or Islam through argument, science, or eloquence, they would not have
to resort to arms. The Qur�an becomes younger and fresher as time passes, for
this process allows its hidden unlimited treasures to be disclosed one by one.
Today, Islam is the only way of life that offers us any hope.
As almost every verse has an independent existence, it
also has intrinsic relations with every other verse and with the Qur�an as a
whole. Given this, understanding and interpreting a verse requires a complete
and holistic knowledge and understanding of the Qur�an. This is why Muslims
say that the Qur�an�s main interpreter is the Qur�an itself.
Bedi�zzaman Said Nursi frequently draws our attention
to the miraculous depths of meaning contained in the Qur�an�s wording. For example,
Arabic�s definite particle al adds inclusiveness to the word, and so he interprets
al-hamdu (the praise) at the beginning of Surat al-Fatiha as: �All praise and
thanks that everyone has given and will give until the Last Day to others since
the beginning of human life on Earth, for any reason and on any occasion, are
Also, from the characteristics of the words used and their
order in: Out of what We have provided for them
they give as livelihood (2:3) he infers the following rules or conditions
of giving alms:
In order to make their alms-giving acceptable to God,
believers must give out of their livelihood a certain amount that will not make
it necessary for them to receive alms. Out of in out of what expresses this
Believers must not transfer another person�s goods to
the needy, but must give from their own belongings. The phrase what We have
provided for them points to this condition. The meaning is: They give (to
maintain life) out of what We have provided for you (to maintain your life).
Believers must not remind those who receive their alms
of the kindness they have received. We in We have provided indicates this
condition, for it means: �I have provided for you the livelihood out of which
you give to the poor. Therefore, you cannot put any of My servants under obligation,
for you are giving out of My property.�
Believers must not fear that they may become poor through
giving to others. We in We have provided points to this. Since God provides
for us and commands us to give others, He will not cause us to become poor
by giving to others.
Believers must give to those who will spend it for their
livelihood, and not to those who will waste it. The phrase They give as livelihood
points to this condition.
Believers must give for God�s sake. We have provided
for them states this condition. It means: �Essentially, you give out of My
property and so you must give in My Name.�
What in out of what signifies that whatever God provides
for a person is included in the meaning of provision. Therefore, believers
must give out of their goods and also out of whatever they have, such as a
good word, an act of help, a piece of advice, and teaching. All of these are
included in the meaning of rizq (provision) and giving others as livelihood.
Along with these conditions, the meaning of the original
three-word expression becomes: �Out of whatever We have provided for them
as goods, money, power, knowledge, and intelligence, and so on, believing
that it is We Who provide and therefore without feeling any fear that they
may become poor because of giving and putting under obligation those to whom
they give, they give to the needy who are sensible enough not to waste what
is given to them, such amount that they themselves will not be reduced to
needing to receive alms themselves.�
This is just one of the thousands of examples of the Qur�anic
expressions� miraculous profundity and meaning.
1. �Abdurrahman Cetin, Kur�an Ilimleri
ve Kur�an-i Kerim Tarihi (Istanbul: 1982), 30-32.
2. Hayreddin Karaman, Fikih Usulu (Istanbul:
3. O. Zeki Mollamehmedoglu, Sunen-i
Tirmizi Tercumesi, vol. 5, hadith no: 3069, 3093.
4. Said Nursi, The Words (trans.) (Izmir:
Kaynak, 1998), 2:2-4.
5. Said Nursi, The Words (trans.) (Izmir:
Kaynak, 1997), 2:10-11, 44.
6. Suad Yildirim, Kur�an-i Kerim ve
Kur�an Ilimlerine Giris (Istanbul: 1983), 43, 62-63.
7. Suphi al-Salih, Kur�an Ilimleri (trans.)
(Konya: n.d.), 55.
8. Ibid., 57 (reporting from
9. The Qur�an, although revealed over
a period of 23 years, has been called the Qur�an since the beginning of its
10. Al-Salih, Kur�an Ilimleri, 61 (reporting
from al-Zarkashi�s Al-Burhan).
11. M. M. Puye, Genuinness of the Holy
Qur�an (Karachi: 1974), 95-98 (reporting from al-Suyuti�s Al-Itqan, and from
Tabarani and Ibn al-Asakir.
12. Yildirim, Kur�an-i Kerim,
62-66; al-Salih, Kur�an Ilimleri, 62-65.
13. Yildirim, Kur�an-i Kerim,
66-70; al-Salih, Kur�an Ilimleri, 65-73.
Kur�an Ilimleri ve Kur�an-i Kerim Tarihi. Istanbul: 1982.
Izutsu, Toshihiko. Kur�an�da Allah ve
Insan (Turkish trans.). 1975.
Kur�an�da Dini ve Ahlaki Kavramlar (Turkish trans.) 1984.
Nasr, S. Hossein.
Ideals and Realities of Islam. London: 1966.
Nursi, Said. Sozler (The Words, 2
vols.). Istanbul: 1958.
Pouya, M. M. The Genuineness of the
Holy Qur�an. Karachi: 1974.
Al-Salih, Suphi. Kur�an Ilimleri (Turkish
trans.). Konya: n.d.
Kur�an-i Kerim ve Kur�an Ilimlerine Giris. Istanbul: 1983.
O. Zeki Mollamehmedoglu, Sunen-i Tirmizi
Tercumesi, vol. 5.
Abdurrahman Cetin, Kur�an Ilimleri ve
Kur�an-i Kerim Tarihi (Istanbul: 1982).
Hayreddin Karaman, Fikih Usulu (Istanbul: