The Holy Quran: Frequently asked Questions

Source: Al-Quran Al-Kareem Committee

1. What is the Qur’an ?

The Qur’an is an Arabic word derived from the verb iqra’a which literally means put letters as well as words together or read and the Qur’an means the words which are read very frequently and the Qur’an used practically for the words of Allah whether the last message that is this Qur’an or the previous messages which revealed to previous messengers like Jesus Moses Ibrahim (P.B.U.T) etc…However, people commonly use the word Al-Qur’an to mean this Qur’an. This Qur’an is therefore defined as words of Allah which was revealed to Muhammad (PBUH), and the recitation of which constitutes an integral part of the daily prayers.

2. If the Qur’an was used for the message revealed to Mohammed (PBUH) as well as the previous messages, what characteristics would then differentiate this Qur’an from the previous ones?

a. The fact that it is the last of the heavenly books, it is more comprehensive than the previous Qur’ans and includes what was revealed in them.

b. Like the previous Ones, this Qur’an was descended in the Holy month of Rammadan. The difference is that the previous Qur’ans were all revealed in one night to the concerned Messengers, whereas this Qur’an was revealed to bait Alaza, in first heavens, in one night and then in sections or portions over a period of twenty years to our Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H).

Here the Angel Jubraeel (P.B.U.H) used to come to the Prophet in order to reveal the concerned section of the Qur’an, at different intervals with no regularity. That is he used to appear at night time or during the day, while the Prophet was with his companions or at home, during travels or in the cities, and so on. The Angel also used to appear to the Prophet (P.B.U.H), revealing a specific section of the Quern which used to coincide with, or follow, a specific incident, solving a particular dispute (with the Jews for example), giving instructions, .. etc. So it is apparent the high status that the Prophet Mohammed has had and continues to have to this day and the day of Judgment.

c. The Qur’an is preserved in the hearts of millions of Muslims worldwide. It has a mystical power in that people throughout their lives have read it many times without getting fed-up with it. Also people are constantly discovering miracles in it, thus scientists are always conducting research on the Qur’anic information and structure.

d. The wording and the meanings of this Qur’an are challenging for human being as well as the Jinn (demon).

e. The Qur’an is the best words that have ever revealed and narrates the best stories of the prevailing nations, It contains a large number of matters on which the Israelites and the Christians have differed on.

f. ALLAH (SWT) Himself promised to preserve this Qur’an, such promise was not made for the other holy books or to the previous prophets.

g. When you start reciting this Qur’an you should say Aotho billahi min alshaitan al-rajeem (Seek refuge with ALLAH from Saitan the cursed one), and if you read certain verses you should prostrate.

h. When this Qur’an first revealed the demon were prevented from getting the heavens news.

I. This Qur’an is revealed in Arabic language and as such it is the only true and authenticwords of Allah. It is challenging, both in structure and meaning. Translations of the Qur’an cannot be considered as a substitute to the Qur’an in its authentic Arabic language, this is a direct result of its authenticity and preservation. A clear example of the other holy books that were translated and being read in different languages; such books over the years have lost their originality and authenticity. In effect the translations do not carry the same holiness as the original Arabic words. Consequently, it is not necessary to have wadu’a before you can hold or touch the English translation of the meaning of the Qur’an provided that such translation has no Arabic original verses.

3. Some people say that this Qur’an is written by Mohammed. What should be the most appropriate answer for such claims?

The Qur’an occupies an important position among the great religious books of the world. However it is the most preserved one, not just in hardback copies and audio and video tapes but also in the hearts of millions of Muslims all over the world. It is, therefore, natural that allegations would be that the author of this book is Mohammed (P.B.U.H) in order to reduce its religious status and value. Such claims are strongly denied by every Muslim due to not just faith, but the logical explanations against such claims. From the scientific point of view, no person in the sixth century AD (that is, fourteen hundred years ago) can utter such precise scientific evidence. For instance, the precise description of evolution of the embryo inside the uterus; the description is so accurate that it was only recently with the development of advanced scopes and image processings that such phenomenon was verified by human beings. Also from the literature point of view, the Qur’an contained a literature merit that the whole region of the Arab peninsula with its high calibre poets could not even produce a single chapter (surah) of the same calibre. There are numerous other logical explanations that would take us very long time to list, such explanations prove that it is not just unlikely for a human being to produce such a book but it is impossible even with the aid of the most powerful computers nowadays, a person would need to be a doctor, a ,chemist, zoologist, botanist, astronomist, poet, geneticist, mathematician, philosopher, historian, and so on, and still can not produce a single equivalent chapter (Surah). If you pick any book for a particular author you see the prevailing style throughout the book, in the Qur’an there is not just one prevailing standard throughout.

4. The Qur’an was revealed over a period of twenty years, could you tell us exactly how many verses (ayats) does the Qur’an contain, also can you give an example of the length of a typical revelation at one time to the Prophet (P.B.U.H) for the purpose of illustration.

There are six thousand and eighty six verses (Ayats) grouped in one hundred and fourteen surah. The shortest Surah is of three Ayats like surat-ul-Kauthur, the longest one is surat-ul – Baqarah with 286 Ayats. An Ayat can consist of only one word like ãÏåÇãÊÇä, it can even be only two letters like (t’h’)Øå. On the other hand, some Ayats can be quite long like Ayat-ul-Kursey, the longest Ayat in the Qur’an is that which deals with loan legislations in surat-ul-Baqara which is more than a full page.

Some of the Surats were revealed on one occasion like Al-Ikhlas. Another example here is Surat Al-Anaam which was revealed in one go, this Surah consists of more than one Juzu (30 pages), it is in fact the fifth longest Surah in the Qur’an. Sometimes part of a verse was revealed on one occasion and the other part would follow on another.

5. The Qur’an is the most read single book in the world, it has been recited for the past fourteen hundred years and the indication is that people will continue not just to recite this book but also memorize It for the coming years until the day of Judgment. Could you tell us why people recite the Qur’an and also why do they go to the extent of even memorizing It.

The Qur’an is the last Book of ALLAH, hence the words contained within It are those uttered by ALLAH. By actually reciting the Qur’an, we are indeed performing ‘Ibada’(an act of worship). With every letter in our recitation we get a reward and ALLAH multiplies such rewards as HE Pleases us. Secondly, we as Muslims believe that on the day of Judgment, those who enter Paradise will be told to climb up the ranks in Paradise as they recite, thus the Muslims thrive to memorise the Qur’an.
The Qur’an contains blessings and reassurance for every situation in our lives, for example in times of fear, difficulty, pain, anxiety, we recite this book for tranquillity from the ALMIGHTY ALLAH. The house in which Qur’an is read frequently can be viewed from the heavens as a shining star.

6. During the years of the new message, the Prophet (P.B.U.H) spent the first period in Mekkah and the rest in Meddinah. There were a certain number of Surahs described as Makki, others were called Meddani. What is the distinction if any between these two types of Surahs?

Simply, what ever was revealed before the Prophet’s migration from Mekkah was called Makki, the rest were all called Meddani with reference to the city of Maddinah. However the style of the Makki Surah had coincided with the onset of the new religion, thus it contained mainly aspects of faith building for the new Muslims which included Tawheed or Oneness and unity of ALLAH, affirming the new Message, and affirming the aspects of the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment. Also in them one can see the general guidelines of legislative concepts and moral excellence. The Maddeni, on the other hand, concentrated mainly on further and detailed elaboration of the legislative matters, it gave a clear guideline to aspects of faith like fasting, paying of Zakat, forbidding intoxicants, prescribing Jihad, .. etc. These Surahs also concentrated on exposing of the hypocritical behavior as well as challenging the people of the Book on aspects of faith when they were invited to embrace Islam.

7. Learning the Qur’an is part of the Islamic faith, at what stage in our lives ought we to start learning this book of ALLAH.

One must take advantage of the early years or more appropriately the golden years in one’s life to harness the strong capability of the brain in memorising. These years are between the age of 5 up to 23. Imam Al-Seeuty had reported in Al-Jame’a Al-SageerÇáÌÇãÚ ÇáÕÛíÑ that the Prophet (P.B.U.H) had said: (Memorising in youth is like engraving on stone whereas memorising when old is like engraving on water). Therefore, the younger you are the easier it is to memorise and less likely to forget, and the older you are the more difficult it would be to memorise and more likely to forget. However, this does not mean that if you pass the age of 23 years you should give up, this is absolutely not the case. A large number of new converts embrace Islam well above this age, they start not just memorising but even learning to read and write a new language. At this relatively late stage in their lives, they develop an excellent command of this new language and also memorise a great deal of the Qur’an. One must also remember that most of the Sahaba embraced Islam in time later years of their lives, still they managed to memorise if not all of the Qur’an but certainly a large proportion of it. A good example here is the Sahabi Salman Al-Farisi who at an age older than that of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) himself embraced Islam.

8. It is a common misconception that Islam as a religion is associated only with the Arabs or the Arabic speaking nations. However we know, for example, that the largest Muslim countries in the world are in fact non Arabic speaking nations. Therefore such people rely on translations and explanation of the Qur’an. What are the rules and regulations that must be followed in delivering such translations.

Translating any document can be achieved in one of three ways:
First is the Literal Translation, this means word for word, sentence for sentence and phrase for phrase. This type of translation cannot be achieved if one wants to maintain the originality of the document and keeping the meaning intact. As a result this type of translation is not allowed as far as the Qur’an is concerned.

Second is the Meaning Translation, the Qur’an’s language is very eloquent, it has essential meanings as well as secondary ones. What is meant by essential meanings, are those that can be literally transferred or translated to any other language. However, this type of Qur’anic information may consist of more than one meaning, thus the literal translation may not be accurate of the meaning itself. The secondary meanings, on the other hand, is the type of words structure that gave the Qur’an it’s challenging characteristics to all creatures. Thus the deduction here is that the secondary translation is not just disallowed but in fact impossible, consequently this makes the Meaning Translation not practical.

Third is the Explanatory Translation (translation of the Tafseer): in this translation, the translator or the Mufasir translates what he understands from the explanation (tafseer) of the Qur’an to the other languages. This stresses the point that the translation is based on the understanding of the particular authority be it Islamic Institutes or certain Alim or Ulama. This is why we see a different number of Tafseers with slightly different opinions based on the particular authority which reflects the ability of understanding of those in charge. Obviously, the translation of the Qur’an is not the Qur’an, and with translation the challenging character of wording structure of the Qur’an will be lost . Therefore one can see the importance in learning the language of the Qur’an, that is the Arabic language.

9. The Qur’an, as the words of ALLAH, contains as well the legislation of the Muslims, their ways of life and their conduct. It has been revealed in the richest textual format and in occasions that vary from one to another. The Muslims rely on the Tafseer of this book to understand the concepts contained within. Can you elaborate on this and how many different tafseers are available and also how do they rank to each other.

As far as the number of Tafseers available, there are certainly many. Some of the Tafseers concentrate on the Scientific phenomenon, other would concentrate on the linguistic features, … etc. Some of the Tafseers are very large and contained in a number of volumes (up to 30), other four or six volumes, some Tafseers are contained in only one volume. The Tafseer of Ibn Abbas (kinned as the interpreter of the Qur’an) is one of the most famous, others like Ibn Katheer is the most recommanded, and among the relatively recent ones is Tafheem Al-Quraan and also In the Shade of the Qur’an.

10. We have established that the Qur’an is, in fact, the words of ALLAH, therefore, the status that such a book has, is well above any other book. Reading the Qur’an is most definitely done in such a way that distinguishes it from other books, we call such method of reading “Reciting”. Could you tell us about this?

The way we read the Qur’an is certainly different from the way we read any other book. What distinguishes the Qur’an from other books is that every word in it had been descended from the ALMIGHTY ALLAH. Thus reading the Qur’an is done in an eloquent way to reflect its excellence. This is called “Tarteel” or “Tajweed” which means the art of reciting in accordance with the established rules of pronunciation and intonation. Therefore it is advisable that every Muslim should learn these rules.


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