Qur’an means both recitation and reading. The Qur’an is the actual words of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and recited by him verbatim over the course of 23 years (610-632 CE). Along with the sayings and doings of the Prophet (the Sunnah), this Qur’an is the source of Islamic teaching—the Muslim scripture.
Consisting of 114 parts, each called a surah, it is a medium sized book which is remarkably easy to memorize, completely in rhyme and clear in meaning. In fact it also bears the title, The Clear Qur’an. (Other names include The Noble Qur’an, The Wise Qur’an and The Glorious Qur’an.)
The Book of Islam is neither poetry nor prose but something astonishingly all its own. Each line is called an ayah which means sign and indeed carries more significance than a mere verse or statement. Muslims are to recite some of the Qur’an several times a day in their prayers.
It may seem unusual at first in that it doesn’t seem to have a concrete beginning or end, can be read starting from anywhere, repeats certain things often and is divided into parts which are neither chronological nor thematic. But, after studying with a person of knowledge, one soon sees how these actually enhance the majesty of the Noble Reading.
The Prophet Muhammad served as the interpreter and living example of the Qur’an’s Message. Thus his Sunnah is vital to gaining a correct understanding of God’s Words.
The Qur’an is God’s final message to mankind and a miracle for all times. Thus God Himself promises in the Qur’an that He will not allow The Wise Qur’an to be lost or distorted as previous scriptures were at the hands of religious elites. Indeed this book is exactly as it was 1,400 year ago when first revealed.
Just as it brought guidance and spiritual support at all levels to the first Muslims, it continues so today. The final message to mankind confirms the core teachings of prior Prophets and Divine books (like the Psalms, Gospel, etc.) to worship only the one, true God and follow the Creator’s guidance to achieve blessings in this life and eternal happiness in the next. In addition, many of the key distortions introduced over time in those teachings (discrepancies, myths, etc.) are corrected.
Unlike the teachings of other Books and Prophets, the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad address all of mankind—not particular nations or groups of people. And as the final Message to humanity, the Qur’an offers comprehensive guidance to all peoples everywhere, in every era, in every aspect of life.
The Noble Qur’an’s miracle is also in terms of its style, content and effect.
Its linguistic elegance in the original Arabic is absolutely unique and cannot be equaled. This miraculous characteristic gives many who hear or read it the immediate sense that they are truly experiencing the very words of the Creator Himself.
The scripture of Islam seeks to awaken the inner nature of man. It answers the big questions of life in ways that are perpetually appealing to the mind, regardless of time and place. And it follows this up consistently with profound yet intellectually appealing and emotionally uplifting wisdom.
The Qur’an is also perhaps the only religious scripture which never contradicts proven scientific fact. Qur’anic perspectives on issues related to science are always already or later proven to be the right ones. This is despite the unlikelihood or even impossibility that they could have been known with certainty by the Prophet or those around him. The Qur’an has even provided facts later discovered by science. Hence the book can be intellectually satisfying for discerning minds of any era.
Recitations of the Qur’an are even used to cure anxiety and illnesses of all kinds. In addition to a transcendent spiritual effect, reciting or hearing recitations of the melodious, rhythmic harmony of the Qur’an have been found to produce healing effects on the body.1 Indeed the Qur’an has, since the Prophet’s time, been widely used to treat all sorts of illnesses—even for non-Muslims.
Though largely misunderstood in the West, the Qur’an has always been respected throughout the world, including by non-Muslim cultures. To be truly appreciated it has to be studied with proper guidance from those with knowledge of Arabic, the Sunnah and the Islamic sciences. Context is key; for the Qur’an was revealed over a period of more than two decades in response to various circumstances.
Yet countless inquisitive, open-minded non-Muslims have perused the pages of its translations and had their souls touched by the most read and most influential book of all time.
Ahmed Elkadi, “Health and Healing in the Qur’an,” in Islamic Perspectives in Medicine – A Survey of Islamic Medicine: Achievements and Contemporary Issues, ed. Shahid Athar, M.D. (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1993).
Malik Badri, Contemplation: An Islamic Psychospiritual Study (London: The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2000).