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The Qur’an: From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

The Qur’an: From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

And thus, We have sent to you O Muhammad a revelation, and a mercy of Our Command.  You knew not what the Book is, nor what is Faith?  But We have made it (this Qur’an) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will.  And verily, you O Muhammad are indeed guiding (humankind) to the Straight Path.  (Ash-Shura 42:52)

Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, the final Messenger from God, received the Qur’an, in two stages.  These perfect words of God were sent down to guide humankind out of the darkness and into the light; they are guidance and a mercy.

The Qur’an – the words of God are perfect words, from a perfect God, to His Creation.  On the night known as the ‘Night of Decree’, in the Islamic month of Ramadan, the Qur’an descended, from the Preserved Tablet[1] to the Lowest Heaven.  It then descended from the heavens to the earth in small stages.

The revelation was delivered to Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel.[2] When Prophet Muhammad was around forty years of age he started to spend time in deep reflection.  According to his beloved wife `A’ishah (Al-Bukhari) the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him via vivid good dreams.  He would go to the cave known as Hira’ to worship the One God and contemplate life, the universe, and his place in the world.

One night during Ramadan an angel came to him and asked him to read.  The Prophet, who was unable to read or write, replied ‘I do not know how to read’.  The angel then held him forcibly and pressed his chest so hard that he could not bear the pressure.  The angel then released Muhammad and asked him once more to read.  Again he replied “but I do not know how to read”.  The angel held him forcibly three times and Muhammad responded each time that he did not know how to read (or asked what shall I read).  The angel then related to him the first words of Qur’an.[4]

Read!  In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists).  He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read!  And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught by the pen, He has taught man that which he knew not.  (Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

After this first revelation, which Muhammad found frightening; he was not visited by the angel Gabriel again for an undetermined amount of time.  The next time he encountered him (the angel) he was walking alone.  Prophet Muhammad heard a voice from the heavens.  When he looked up he saw the angel sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth.  Muhammad was afraid and ran home seeking comfort and asking to be wrapped in blankets.  The second revelation occurred at this time.

O you covered in garments arise and warn the people of a severe punishment…  (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-5)

Over the next 23 years until shortly before Prophet Muhammad’s death, the Qur’an was revealed in stages. Several reasons have been suggested for this.  Some say that it was revealed slowly to offer Prophet Muhammad support and address issues as they arose.

Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, narrates that when asked about how the divine inspiration was revealed Prophet Muhammad replied, “Sometimes it is like the ringing of a bell, this form of inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes after I have grasped what is inspired.  Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says”. (Al-Bukhari)

Ibn `Abbas described Prophet Muhammad as bearing the revelation “with great trouble and moving his lips quickly”.(Al-Bukhari) As the words of Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad he began to commit them to memory.

Memorization was considered important and was widely practiced even in the early years of Islam.  Prophet Muhammad requested that his companions memorize Qur’an and used various measures to assure that the revelation was preserved in their memories.  According to ibn Ishaq, compiler of one of the first biographies of Prophet Muhammad, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud was the first man, after Muhammad, to recite the Qur’an publicly and on this occasion was severely beaten.  Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion Abu Bakr was also known to recite Qur’an outside his home in Mecca. (Al-Bukhari)

Qur’an was memorized by the companions during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime and this tradition has continued through the following generations.  Even today Muslims unable to read Arabic memorize the exact same words that were memorized by the Arabs of the 7th century CE.  The majority of the Arabs were unlettered, including Prophet Muhammad; however the importance of the written word was well understood.

Preserving the divine revelation was paramount; therefore trustworthy and knowledgeable people memorized and wrote down the words of Qur’an.  These included the four men destined to follow Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim nation and a man named Zaid ibn Thabit, who would be instrumental in the preservation of Qur’an for the many generations to follow.

Writing materials were difficult to obtain and in these very early days portions of Qur’an were written onto animal skins, thin light colored stones, bones, and even bark.  The companions would write down the words of revelation and Prophet Muhammad would listen to the men recite from the written word to make sure there were no mistakes.  It could be said that the Qur’an was written down under the direct supervision of Prophet Muhammad.  The Qur’an was not revealed in order, however the Angel Gabriel instructed Prophet Muhammad on how to compile the Qur’an in the divinely inspired correct sequence.

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Footnotes:

[1] Lauh Al-Mahfuz (the preserved tablet) is the book in which God wrote the divine decrees and the destiny of all of creation.  It was with God before the creation.

[2] Suyuti’ in Al Itqan Fi Ulum Al Quran, Beirut, 1973, Vol.  I pp. 39-40 based on three reports from ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, in Hakim, Baihaqi and Nasa’i.

 

 

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Status of the Sunnah in Islam

Status of the Sunnah in Islam

Salem Al-`Amry talks on a very important subject that every muslim needs to know; that is the Status of Sunnah in Islam. He sheds light on the meaning of the Sunnah, and he further explains why we should follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) closely just as we are to follow the noble Qur’an.

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Qur’an: Matchless Perfection

Qur’an: Matchless Perfection

 

Copy of the Qur'an

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of Allah.

 

The authenticity of any scripture is considered from two significant aspects; the first is its authenticity with regard to its divine origin, and the other is its preservation in its original form.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of Almighty Allah revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and that it has retained its purity throughout history. Therefore, today, after centuries of turmoil, it remains the only divine book that has been protected from any form of corruption.

What is Meant by the “Qur’an?

First, it should be emphasized that, by the Qur’an, we do not mean its translation into any other language, but we mean the original Arabic scripture. This is, for instance, in contrast with the Christian point of view considering any translation of the Bible as the Word of God.

Most Christians are not concerned about the original language of the scriptures of the Bible as long as they have a translation in their own language. Muslims, on the other hand, would never call a translation of the Qur’an “The Qur’an.” To them the Qur’an is that in the original Arabic which was revealed fourteen centuries ago to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

It was, beyond any doubt, revealed to him in Arabic and it is still read in the same way as the Prophet recited it to his Companions. Almighty Allah says,

Thus we have revealed it as an Arabic Qur’an, and have displayed therein certain threats, that peradventure they may keep from evil or that it may cause them to take heed. (Ta-Ha 20: 113)

The Qur’an and its Translation

It is known that a translator chooses words and phrases from the vocabulary of the target language to express what he understands of the original text. He may not fully succeed in expressing what he wants to convey, nor can he rule out the possibility of a different choice and order of words and phrases by another translator.

In the course of translation, the first casualty is always the typical idiom of the source language. Even in the best translation, much of the power and appeal of the original text is, somehow, lost.
This leads us to the fact that the Qur’an, as the Word of Allah, maintains perfect harmony between its content and language. One may understand the meaning of the Qur’anic text from a translation, preferably with sufficient explanation. However, the beauty, appeal and influence of its language, could hardly be convoyed to non-Arabic speaking people.

The foregoing is meant only to point out the limitations of translation. This is not meant to decry the use of translation in general, as it is essential for non-Arabs.
It is noteworthy that the Qur’an came to Arabia at a time when Arabic poetry had reached its peak; but the master-poets of that day could not equal the Qur’anic richness in diction, style or beauty.

Moreover, the Qur’an challenged the Arabs – the commanders of language, eloquence and fluency – to invent ten surahs or even one surah like the Qur’an but they could not. Almighty Allah says,

Say: “If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support. (Al-Israa’ 17: 88)

He, the Almighty, also says,

Or they say: He has invented it. Say: Then bring ten surahs, the like thereof, invented, and call on everyone you can beside Allah, if ye are truthful! (Hud 11: 13)

The Qur’an’s Effects on Language and Society

The Qur’an was able to hold the Arabic language in thrall from the moment it was revealed. Indeed, its haunting rhythms rocked the whole of Arabia from Sudan to Syria and from Morocco to Oman.
While the languages of most of the other scriptures had become dead, the Qur’an continues to occupy the top position as an abiding model for literary Arabic. In fact, Arabic has defied the usual norms of the evolution of languages throughout history.

The French scholar, Ernest Renan (1823-1894), who carried out extensive research on Semitic languages, said about Arabic:

“The Arabic language is the most astonishing event of human history. Unknown during the classical period, it suddenly emerged as a complete language. After this, it did not undergo any noticeable changes, so one cannot define for it an early or a late stage. It is just the same today as it was when it first appeared.”

In acknowledging this “astonishing event of human history” the French Orientalist, was in fact, acknowledging the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. It was the Qur’an’s phenomenal literary style which preserved the Arabic language from alteration that other languages have undergone.

There is no other book in human history that has molded, and continues to mold, the lives of generations of people as the Qur’an. It has reformed and refined all the aspects of the lives of Muslims.

The Qur’an has been miraculous to all human beings. It is the book that:

  • Reformed and refined the lives of thousands of Bedouins who had not thought of anything beyond the confines of their clans,
  • Transformed the shepherds of Arabia into Caliphs and judges “Qadis“,
  • Brought into being the renowned universities and centers of learning that awakened a new enlightenment in the world that no other civilization of the world could match.

This was indeed a brilliant and lasting miracle of Almighty Allah reflected through the Qur’an, because Prophet Muhammad’s only source of inspiration for the revolution he brought about was the Qur’an. With Allah’s Book in hand, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) formed a model of the nucleus of a universal society in Arabia.

This society was formed out of those scattered and cantankerous desert tribes who had very little scientific knowledge or material resources. Their initiation into a stable Islamic cultural order was effected independent of all the socio-political systems or powers existing in the world at that time.

The Qur’an was the backbone of this unique spiritual revolution which has shone throughout history. The verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) over 23 years of his life. As soon as the Prophet received these verses, he dictated them to his Companions who not only wrote them down, but also learned them by heart.

There were so many people who had memorized the Qur’an, that from the first day of its revelation, the Qur’an was in the hands and hearts of the people. You cannot say this about the Bible or about any other scripture.

Before the death of the Prophet, the entire Qur’an had been written down, examined and verified by the Prophet himself. From that time onwards, it has remained intact; safe from any corruption as several of its copies were in the possession of Muslims.

So, it was impracticable, even impossible, to make any changes to its verses even if someone had strongly intended to do so. Moreover, distorting the Qur’an was impossible as Allah Almighty has promised to protect it, He says,

Surely We have revealed the Reminder (Qur’an) and We will assuredly guard it “from corruption” (Al-Hijr 15: 9)

At the time of the Prophet’s death, a number of his Companions had already compiled the portions of the Qur’an into one volume. During the reign of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), a leading scholar and scribe of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him), was appointed to compile an official version. After meticulous work, he prepared the official collection (mushaf ).

An Everlasting Miracle

One of the foremost reasons for the Qur’an’s continuing incorruptibility is that it has been preserved in Arabic, its original language, unlike the Bible. Thus, we can see that the Qur’an we have today is the same Qur’an that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received from Almighty Allah. Its authenticity and genuineness therefore, is unimpeachable. Almighty Allah says,

And say: The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing “thing”. (Al-Israa’ 17: 81)

He, the Almighty also says,

If there were a Qur’an with which mountains were moved, or the earth was cloven asunder, or the dead were made to speak, “it would be this one!” (Ar-Ra`d 13: 31)

One of the miracles of the Qur’an, which was revealed 14 centuries ago, is that it can be read and understood by the Arabic-speakers living today. Every language undergoes changes as time passes, and a period of one or two hundred years is long enough for a language to undergo substantial changes.

Thus, anyone who knows the rudiments of the history of languages knows that logically, it would be impossible for Arabic-speakers of today to read and understand a book that is fourteen centuries old.

Yet, every day, every hour, every minute, in fact every second of the 24 hours of the 365 days in every year of the past centuries have been alive with reading and studying the Qur’anic verses. That, certainly, will go on forever.

The volume and scope of the Qur’an increase in every imaginable way with the coming of multimedia. This had started at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and it has continued unceasingly till the present day, making this the ever-present miracle of Prophet Muhammad, rivaling all other miracles so far.

Even the invaders who ravaged the Islamic lands and triumphed over the Muslims, owing to their military superiority, lost their dominance in the end when they were confronted with the spiritual power of Islam, and eventually, most of them adopted the religion of the people they had conquered.

Almighty Allah says:

This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. (Al-Baqarah2: 2)

The foregoing inevitably leads us to the conclusion that the Qur’an is undoubtedly the word of Allah the Almighty.

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Source: Taken with slight modifications from onislam.net.

 

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Could the Qur’an Be a Copy of the Bible?

By Nabil Harun

There is an old ridiculous fallacy, that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) copied the Bible, a fallacy copied from some ignorant Arab pagans against the Prophet during his lifetime. They were stunningly challenged by the grandeur of the divine revelation.

The Qur’an has unveiled the Christian and Jewish distortions of the original messages of Moses and Jesus.

To face the challenge, they strived hard to push away the coming light that was gradually penetrating the Makkan society and radiating outwards to Arab tribes coming to Makkah for trade or pilgrimage, threatening to penetrate the Arab Peninsula and the whole Middle East and world, and engulf their absurd beliefs and challenge their tribal sovereignty to extinction.

Closing their ears and minds from hearing and accepting the Qur’an, and being also ignorant of the Bible, the nearest forgery to proclaim was that the Qur’an was being borrowed from the Bible or some Biblical source.

However, at that time, Christianity was almost totally out of the scene of Makkah. In the Arab Peninsula, Christian presence was confined to three locations: among the tribes of Al-Heerah in the northeast near Iraq, the Roman-occupied kingdom of Bani Ghassan in the northwest, and the Abyssinian reign of Yemen, far away from Makkah. Jewish presence was mainly in enclave settlements in and around Madinah.

Makkah being devoid of any real source of Biblical information, the pagans of the time could find no better candidate than a non-Arab Roman blacksmith boy earning his living there. They claimed that he was the source of the Qur’an, dictating it to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) out of his meager Biblical education!

The mockingly fabricated fallacy soon faded away among the pagans themselves. Years later, in the peak of the fierce hostilities of the Jewish tribes of Al-Madinah, and amidst their repeated attempts to defame the Prophet, spread rumors and work out plots to eradicate Islam, no such claim (i.e., that the Qur’an copied the Bible) was ever raised.

On the contrary, the Jews were keeping their scriptures away from the Muslims, especially those prophesizing and supporting the new message. It is also significant that there was no single Arabic translation of the Bible till the tenth century CE, i.e., three centuries after the Prophet’s death.

The available texts of the Bible were either in Syrian, Greek, or Hebrew. If the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) could have any direct access to the Jewish or Christian scriptures, he would have quoted them, being in dire need to challenge his opponents.

The only other reported encounters of the Prophet with Christian sources were on two occasions. At the early age of twelve, during a trip with his uncle Abu Talib among a trade caravan to Ash-Sham, they casually met Baheerah, a Syrian monk who reportedly could identify in the boy Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) signs of expected prophethood foretold in the old scriptures.

Similarly, when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received the first few verses of the revelation, his worried wife Khadijah brought him to her relative Waraqah ibn Nawfal. Being a Christian convert with some knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures, he assured the Prophet that the revelation he received was genuinely divine. Waraqah passed away shortly thereafter; the revelation continued for 23 years.

Now let us examine the two texts, the Qur’an and the Bible. The Qur’an was revealed over 23 years in installments to match multitudes of events, issues, and queries, which were finally compiled into surahs (chapters), each having a homogeneous flowing narration.

On the other hand, the Bible is a collection of 58 (plus 16 disputed) books written by several human authors and groups. These books were originally not intended to be holy scriptures, but were selectively made so by the ecumenical councils of the Church, several centuries after Christ.

An academic or even casual hand-on examination by an impartial sound intellect could never fail to witness the deep contrast between the superb text and context of the Qur’an, compared to the fallible human texts comprising the Bible books.

Further, the Qur’an has vehemently unveiled the Christian and Jewish distortions of the original messages of Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). The original Injeel and Torah are no longer available. Please read, for example, the Qur’anic correction and reply to the Biblical distortions:

– Abraham was a Jew: 2:140; 3:65
– Allah tired from act of creation— Allah forbid: 50:38
– Jesus the son of God— Allah forbid: 9:30; 5:17
– Trinity: 5:72-73
– Sanctifying the Church: 3:64
– Solomon blaspheming: 2:102
– The first Qiblah: 3:96
– Forbidden foods: 3:93

Could a copy (i.e., the Qur’an, according to the allegation) correct the claimed original (i.e., Bible)? 

Knowledge-wise, the Qur’an was proven to refer to and be precisely compatible with facts of science evolving over 14 centuries, a living proof of the authenticity of the Qur’an. This is contrasted to contradictions between the human Bible and science.

A few examples of these contradictions are: the allegory of the primordial waters, the creation of light before the creation of the stars producing them, the existence of day and night before creation of the earth, and creation of the earth before the sun, that the world was created only 5,766 years ago, and similar historically untenable descriptions and estimation of the time of the Flood.

Again, could the Qur’an “learn” from the Bible?

There are, of course, points of agreement between the Qur’an and the Bible, e.g., the main aspects of the stories of prophets. That is natural as far as the original source of information being the same, divine revelation of Allah through His Messengers teaching essentially the same message. But here again, in the stories of the prophets we witness the profound differences between the Qur’anic narrations and those of the Bible. Compare for example: the story of prophet Joseph in the Qur’an (12:4-102) and the Bible (Genesis 37-45). Here, the brief to-the-point yet lively objective Qur’anic narration to emphasize advice and exhortations can be contrasted to the marginal details listed in the lengthy “once-upon-a-time” style of the Bible.

While the Qur’an gives due respect and reverence to the prophets as Allah’s chosen inviolable human beings, radiating His guidance to their contemporaries and future generations, the Bible frequently portrays them dishonorably. Consider for example:
  Genesis 9:20-24: Noah being drunk and appearing naked in front of his sons

  Exodus 32:3-4: Aaron shaping a golden calf for the Israelites to worship

  1 Kings 11:9-10: Solomon worshiping false gods

  2 Samuel 11:4-5: David committing adultery

  Genesis 19:31-36: Lot committing incest with his two daughters

Once again, could the Bible be the “source” and the Qur’an the “copy”?

In recent times, Christian missionaries and Orientalists, disguised in the cloaks of scholarly research, reproduced the same old thwarted fallacy of the ancient pagans and strived to spread it among the naïve and scantly-educated Muslim masses. The targeted audience are those sectors unaware of the real nature and context of the Bible (as a collection of human works with all the ensuing defects) and, more importantly, are ignorant of their own inimitable Book, the Qur’an.

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Taken from Onislam.net.

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Qur’anic Supplications

Qur’anic Supplications

In this series of videos brother Wisam Shrieff explains how to pronounce the supplications mentioned in the Qur’an and gives the English translation of these supplications so that they memorized easily. This playlist contains 30 different supplications collected from the Qur’an.


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Source: aqlonline.com.

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