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Tips for New Muslims on How to Read the Qur’an

Tips for New Muslims on How to Read the Qur’an

It is very important for Muslims to read the Qur’an and get a better understanding of its message. This is how we can learn and practice the basic concepts of Islam as a balanced way of life.

someone teaching another how to read the qur'an

The first word of the Qur’an revealed to Prophet Muhammad was “Read”.

Reading the Qur’an also shows us the universe in a new light: we learn many amazing facts about ourselves and the different creatures of God, the environmental balance and our role in it, human behavior and relations, financial and economic concepts, and much, much more.

In other words, when we read the Qur’an we must free our minds and open up our souls to get a much deeper understanding of our world and ourselves. It is not just a book of worship and religious rules; it is a book of wisdom that will change our lives.

Here are some general guidelines on how to read the Qur’an:

1- Find a good translation in a language you understand well. For English speakers, I recommend Professor Mohamed Abdel Halim’s modern English translation (The Qur’an, a new translation- Oxford University Press).

Always bear in mind that reading the Qur’an in any other language than its original Arabic is only an approximation of the meaning and not the exact text, simply because it is impossible to reproduce the same literary experience in any other language.

Dr. Mostafa Mahmoud, a philosopher and scientist, describes the Qur’anic style:

“There is no end rhyme, nor is the Qur’an written in verse. The prose, however, is so unique that one can detect a law of verbal architecture that governs its internal music pattern. It remains impossible to imitate the structural and rhetorical brilliance of the Qur’an”.

2- Listen to a recitation of the Qur’an from an experienced reader, even if you don’t understand. It is important to get the feeling of the original text, and it is mesmerizing to hear its unusual music.

3- If this is your first encounter with the Qur’an, plan two consecutive readings: a first quick and general reading to get the big ideas, then a second more thorough reading to delve deeper and get a much closer look at the details.

4- Start your first reading with a neutral frame of mind. Approaching the Qur’an with a pre-conceived perception will only slow your progress and color your understanding of its true message, resulting in a confused impression.

Consult your own open heart and mind in the first reading, and not other people’s opinions, whether from classical books or from the mainstream media. The Qur’an reaches straight into your soul if you let it, so please allow yourself the experience.

Dr. Mohamed Enani writes:

“The Qur’an speaks the language of the human heart wherever humans are found and whatever the age they live in; it is a universal language rooted deep in a human’s natural constitution”.

5- Do not be afraid to challenge what you read. The Qur’an actually invites the reader to do just that, as long as you diligently and earnestly try to find the answers, because in the process, you end up re-discovering your true self.

This rewarding journey of mental and spiritual growth is described in the works of many prominent western Muslims such as American Professor of mathematics Jeffrey Lang, who was challenging the Qur’an as a fierce atheist, yet couldn’t help but surrender to it eventually (Struggling to Surrender, Amana Publications), he writes of his first reading:

“You cannot simply read the Qur’an, not if you take it seriously. You either have surrendered to it already or you fight it. It attacks tenaciously, directly, personally; it debates, criticizes, shames, and challenges. From the outset it draws the line of battle, and I was on the other side. I was at a severe disadvantage, for it became clear that the Author knew me better than I knew myself. The Qur’an was always way ahead of my thinking; it was erasing barriers I had built years ago and was addressing my queries”.

6- Allow yourself time to contemplate. Don’t read the Qur’an like you read the newspaper, rather, read it as a direct message from God Himself to you in particular! When you read verses where God talks to the reader, stop and let the message sink in, then allow yourself time to think of yourself and your life in relation to this divine communication, think of how you could put it to good use to adjust your convictions and behavior.

When you read stories about previous nations, find contemporary parallels and try to learn the lessons. When you read about God’s magnificent creations, think of educating yourself about nature and showing gratitude to Him through respecting life and natural resources. Think of the Qur’an as a dialogue or a conversation rather than a one-way communication of do’s and don’ts. Be brave enough to provide the honest answers to the questions your heart and mind will throw at you while you read.

7- Get additional insights from trusted sources about the Qur’an’s message from different perspectives: scientific, sociological, behavioral, regulatory…etc. in addition to reading about the historic context in which it was revealed, including the biography of the man who transmitted it to us: Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions.

I advise you to read original writings from fellow Muslims of your native culture, rather than translated works from Arabic, with the exception of a few outstanding works (for example, Dr. Mostafa Mahmoud’s book Understanding the Qur’an, a Contemporary Approach, translated by Dr. M Enani- Amana Publications).

Read also about the brilliant achievements of Muslim scientists across history, when they understood and applied the Qur’anic rules of acquiring and applying knowledge to serve humanity as God’s vicegerents on Earth.

A good source is “Lost History, the Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists” by Michael Hamilton Morgan, National Geographic.

8- Plan to read the Qur’an in its original language one day by learning Arabic, and the science of the correct recitation of the Qur’an called ‘tajweed‘. There are lessons in all the mosques in the world, and there are transliterated Qur’ans especially for this purpose, to help you pronounce correctly, and many new Muslims have excelled at this and teach others, you can easily find their sites through a simple online search.

The experience is unparalleled if you allow yourself to absorb it in full. In his book “The Amazing Qur’an“, Dr. Garry Miller writes:

“Calling the Qur’an amazing is not something done only by Muslims, who have an appreciation for the book, and who are pleased with it; it has been labeled amazing by non-Muslims as well. In fact, even people who hate Islam very much have still called it amazing”.

Dr. Miller then explains his surprise as a scientist during his first reading:

“Within the last century the scientific community has demanded a test of falsification for any new scientific theory. This is exactly what the Qur’an has. Basically it states, “If this book is not what it claims to be, then all you have to do is this or this or this to prove that it is false.” Honestly, I was very surprised when I first discovered this challenge. In 4:82 the book openly invites the non-Muslim to find a mistake. In 1400 years no one has been able to do that, and thus it is considered true and authentic”.

_________________

Taken from Onislam.net.

 

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Yusha Evans: “My Attraction to Islam was the Quran”

Yusha Evans: “My Attraction to Islam was the Quran”

By Editorial Staff

This is the story of the famous American preacher, Yusha Evan, whose study of the Bible led him to leave Christianity. He studied the Bible fifteen times from cover to cover. In doing so, he realized there were many inconsistencies and contradictions.

Passing through many phases of searching the true religion, he was finally invited to Islam by an ordinary Muslim. In this video, he tells us his story with the Quran and how it attracted him. This is an inspiring story for us all to study the Gracious Quran and invite people from everywhere to study it.

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The Seven Under Allah’s Shade

The Seven Under Allah’s Shade

By Jamaal Diwan

The hadith (saying of the Prophet) of the seven who are in Allah’s shade, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), on the Day of Judgment gives us guidance as to important milestones and markers for our spiritual development. These are goals that should be sought in one’s development.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade: a just ruler; a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic; a man whose heart is attached to the mosques; two men who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting upon that; a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but he says: ‘I fear Allah’, a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity; and a man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The seven things mentioned all relate to serious developmental goals that should be sought throughout our own personal development and our efforts to help other people in their own growth.

So there are seven things mentioned in this hadith:

  • A just ruler.
  • A youth who grows up in the worship of Allah.
  • A man whose heart is attached to the mosques.
  • Two people who love one another for the sake of Allah.
  • Someone who resists a direct temptation from the opposite gender.
  • A person who is completely selfless in charity.
  • A person who remembers Allah in private and sheds tears in doing so.

The seven things mentioned all relate to serious developmental goals that should be sought throughout our own personal development and our efforts to help other people in their own growth.

1. A Just Ruler

The first is to develop a level of Allah-consciousness (taqwa) in the way that one deals with power. Being in a position of authority in Islam is a responsibility that one is held accountable for and it is very serious. Part of that is that our base selves often push us to take advantage of our positions of authority and abuse our power at the expense of others. This is a serious developmental flaw because it shows irresponsibility and a lack of taqwa. We all have varying situations throughout our lives wherein we are in a position of authority and when we have such power we have to look critically at ourselves and hope that Allah gives us good friends who help keep us in line. The developmental lesson here is in learning to act responsibly with power.

2. A youth who grows up in the worship of Allah

The second is a special kind of person that you meet every now and then. They are just good and always have been. These people are truly special because their consistency in worship draws them close to the fitrah, or natural state of being. You can feel their goodness in their interactions and see their genuineness in the details of their behavior. Most of us were not raised this way but that does not mean that we cannot renew our commitment to Allah (swt). That is something that we can do it any time by asking His forgiveness and starting fresh. This developmental point is about being consistent in our servitude to Allah (swt).

3. A man whose heart is attached to the mosques

The third is the one whose heart is attached to the houses of worship. These are the people you meet who organize their lives around prayer. They make every effort to be at the mosque for prayer as much as possible and find beauty and pleasure in doing so. They recognize the peace and tranquility that comes from spending time in the mosque, and they call others to do so as well. This developmental point is about learning to love worship.

4. Two people who love one another for the sake of Allah

The fourth is two people that love each other for the sake of Allah (swt). There are many reasons why we could care for someone in this life. Sometimes those reasons are selfish and sometimes they are selfless. The one who loves solely for Allah’s sake (swt) is selfless in their love. This is a kind of training of the heart that all seekers of the Divine must experience. They must learn to purify their relationships with others and focus them on the ultimate goal, the pleasure of Allah (swt). This developmental point is essentially learning how to love properly and for the right reasons.

5. Someone who resists a direct temptation from the opposite gender

The fifth is someone who is called to fulfill their sexual desires in an unlawful way and resists. This is mentioned as a major trial that can afflict a person and as such the reward for passing it is Paradise. The person who is able to resist such a temptation is someone who has a strong control over their self and a clear awareness of Allah (swt). The developmental lesson is in learning to resist immediate temptations in favor of a greater reward with Allah (swt).

6. A person who is completely selfless in charity

The sixth is someone who is so charitable that they lose track of their charity. The expression here is that their right hand spends so freely that their left hand does not even notice it. This habit is not about simply giving when it is convenient or only on certain things and not others. This is a habit that becomes so much a part of the person’s being that it reaches all causes of goodness. The developmental lesson is in making charity a way of life.

7. A person who remembers Allah in private and sheds tears in doing so.

The seventh, and final, is the one who remembers Allah (swt) in private and tears up. This last one is very intimate. Many people are able to maintain a stable Islamic personality in public, but when they are left alone by themselves they start to slip. Their identity and worship are public affairs but have not reached the inner depths of the self where true spirituality lies. The one who remembers Allah (swt) when alone and cries is the one who has cultivated a truly special and unique relationship with their Creator; an intimate relationship that cannot be explained by words and is only obtained through long periods of struggling for His sake. The developmental goal is to become intimate with Allah (swt) and move past the superficiality of common religious discourse.


Source: muslimsincalgary website with some modifications

About the author:

Jamaal Diwan was born and raised in Southern California and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Third World Studies and a minor in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. He has served with the Muslim Student Association (MSA), MSA West, and Muslim American Society (MAS) in varying capacities. He remains an active MAS member and is a scholarship student with the Islamic American University. Jamaal is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at the College of Shari`ah at al-Azhar University in Cairo, and Master’s degrees from the American University in Cairo in Arabic Studies with an emphasis in Islamic Studies.

 

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The Difference between the Qur’an, Hadith and Hadith Qudsi

By Ahmad von Denffer

The Qur’an

The Qur’an can be defined as follows:

The speech of Allah, sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel, in its precise meaning and precise wording, transmitted to us by numerous persons (tawatur), both verbally and in writing.

The Word Qur’an

The Quran is the speech of Allah, sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel, in its precise meaning and precise wording, transmitted to us by numerous persons (tawatur), both verbally and in writing.

The Arabic word ‘qur’an‘ is derived from the root qara’a, which has various meanings, such as to read, [Sura 17: 93.] to recite, [Sura 75:18:17: 46.] etc. Qur’an is a verbal noun and hence means the ‘reading‘ or ‘recitation‘. As used in the Qur’an itself, the word refers to the revelation from Allah in the broad sense [Sura 17: 82.] and is not always restricted to the written form in the shape of a book, as we have it before us today.

However, it means revelation to Muhammad only, while revelation to other prophets has been referred to by different names (e.g. taurat, Injil, kitab, etc.).

Other Names of the Qur’an

The revelation from Allah to the Prophet Muhammad is referred to in the Qur’an itself by the name qur’an (recitation) as well as by other names, such as e.g.

  • Furqaan (criterion, see 25: 1).
  • Tanzil (sent down, see 26: 192).
  • Dhikr (reminder, see 15: 9).
  • Kitab (scripture, see 21:10).

Other references to the Qur’an are by such words as Nur (light), Huda (guidance), Rahma (mercy), Majid (glorious), Mubarak (blessed), Bashir (announcer), Nadhir (warner), etc.

All these names reflect one of the various aspects of the revealed word of Allah.

The Meaning of Hadith

The word hadith means news, report or narration. It is in this general sense that the word is used in the Qur’an. [e.g. Sura 12:101.] Technically, the word hadith, (pl. ahadith) means in particular the reports (verbal and written) about the sunna of the Prophet Muhammad. Hadith reports about the Prophet Muhammad are of the following kinds:

  • What he said (qaul).
  • What he did (fi’l).
  • What he (silently) approved (taqrir) in others’ actions.

There are also reports about him, i.e. about what he was like (sifa).

The Difference between the Qur’an and Hadith

There is agreement among most Muslim scholars that the contents of the sunna are also from Allah. Hence they have described it as also being the result of some form of inspiration. The contents of the sunna are however expressed through the Prophet’s own words or actions, while in the case of the Qur’an the Angel Gabriel brought the exact wording and contents to the Prophet, who received this as revelation and then announced it, in the very same manner that he received it.

The difference between these two forms has been illustrated by Suyuti (following Juwaini) in the following manner:

‘The revealed speech of Allah is of two kinds: As to the first kind, Allah says to Gabriel: Tell the Prophet to whom I sent you that Allah tells him to do this and this, and He ordered him something. So Gabriel understood what His Lord had told him. Then he descended with this to the Prophet and told him what His Lord had told him, but the expression is not this (same) expression, just as a king says to someone upon whom he relies: Tell so-and-so: The king says to you: strive in his service and gather your army for fighting … and when the messenger (goes and) says: The king tells you: do not fail in my service, and do not let the army break up, and call for fighting, etc., then he has not lied nor shortened (the message) …

‘And as to the other kind, Allah says to Gabriel: Read to the Prophet this (piece of) writing, and Gabriel descended with it from Allah, without altering it the least, just as (if) the king writes a written (instruction) and hands it over to his trustworthy (servant) and says (to him): Read it to so-and-so. Suyuti said: The Qur’an belongs to the second kind, and the first kind is the Sunna, and from this derives the reporting of the Sunna according to the meaning unlike the Qur’an.” [Sabuni, tibyan, p.52]

It is generally accepted that the difference between Qur’an and sunna is as follows:

The ahadith from or about the Prophet Muhammad are:

  • The words or actions of a human being, and not the speech of God as the Qur’an is.
  • Not necessarily reported in their precise wording, as the Qur’an is.
  • Not necessarily transmitted by tawatur, except in some instances.

Hadith Qudsi

Qudsi means holy, or pure. There are some reports from the Prophet Muhammad where he relates to the people what God has said (says) or did (does), but this information is not part of the Qur’an. Such a report is called hadith qudsi, e.g.:

Abu Hurairah reported that Allah’s messenger said:

‘Allah, Mighty and Exalted is He, said: If My servant likes to meet me, I like to meet him, and if he dislikes to meet Me, I dislike to meet him.’ [Forty Hadith Qudsi, Beirut, Damascus, 1980, No. 30.]

While the common factor between hadith qudsi and the Qur’an is that both contain words from Allah which have been revealed to Muhammad, the main points of difference between Qur’an and hadith qudsi are as follows:

In the Qur’an the precise wording is from Allah, while in the hadith qudsi the wording is given by the Prophet Muhammad.

  • The Qur’an has been brought to Muhammad only by the Angel Gabriel, while hadith qudsi may also have been inspired otherwise, such as e.g. in a dream.
  • The Qur’an is inimitable and unique, but not so the hadith qudsi.
  • The Qur’an has been transmitted by numerous persons, (tawatur) but the hadith and hadith qudsi often only by a few or even one individual. There are hadith qudsi which are sahih, but also others hasan, or even da’if, while there is no doubt at all about any aya from the Qur’an.

Another point is that a hadith qudsi cannot be recited in prayer.

Distinctive Features of the Qur’an

The most important distinction between the Qur’an and all other words or writings therefore is that the Qur’an is the speech from Allah, revealed in its precise meaning and wording through the Angel Gabriel, transmitted by many, inimitable, unique and protected by Allah Himself against any corruption.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Ulum al-Quran: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran” with some modifications.

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A Guide to Reading and Understanding the Quran

A Guide to Reading and Understanding the Quran

If you’re a new Muslim or a non-Muslim who has read, is reading, or thinking about reading the Qur’an, then that’s great. There is way too much misquotation, misrepresentation, and, simply, false accusations attributed to the Qur’an, and the best way to truly understand the book is, well, by reading it.

However, picking up the book and just reading it is not enough. There are many things you need to understand about the Qur’an before you begin reading. Here, I shed light on just two important points, which I believe are the most vital.

There are many things you need to understand about the Qur’an before you begin reading.

The Uniqueness of the Arabic Language

It’s not easy at all to translate Arabic into English or into any other European language for that matter. Arabic to English translations are not done word for word, like how, for example, German to English would be translated. This is because not every Arabic word has an exact English equivalent. So what translators have to do is find the closest matching word or combination of words to try and get the sentiment, tense, tone and emphasis found in the original Arabic across. Essentially, when you read an English Qu’ran, you can’t actually say you are reading a translation of the Qur’an. In fact, you are reading someone’s attempt to bring the apparent meaning of the Qur’an into English.

Even those scholars and academics who are native Arabs or well-versed in Arabic struggle to understand the Arabic of the Qur’an. This is why there are so many commentaries and interpretations written with scholars giving their opinions on the meanings, both apparent and hidden.

Therefore, you can appreciate the task at hand as a reader of an English Qu’ran.

A very good English version I would recommend is this one as it has important footnotes and explains when each chapter was revealed.

How the Qur’an Was Revealed

The Holy Qu’ran was not a complete book or scroll given to the Prophet Muhammad by God, via Archangel Gabriel. It was gradually revealed to the Prophet over twenty-three years.

Academics give various reasons as to why this was the case. For example, to give people a chance to slowly absorb the contents of their newfound faith and not to cause an information overload.

Whilst these and other reasons are likely to be true, what is definitively true is that often (not all the time) a portion of the Qur’an was revealed in response to either questions people asked to the Prophet, due to the actions of the people, community, or general occurrences of the time.

Almost no verse was revealed without context or reason.

A Common Misconception

Many people cite chapter 47, verse 4 to conclude Islam as an intolerant religion that wishes to kill anyone who stands in its way. People only use a portion of the verse too, as it reads:

“Therefore when you meet the disbelievers, smite their necks.” (Quran 47:4)

On face value this sounds like a very violent and intolerant act. You can start to understand the verse better if you know the context, which is as follows.

The non-Muslim Arabs were very unhappy about the rising popularity of Islam and wished to battle and kill the Muslims. The command in the aforementioned verse came from God permitting the Muslims to kill the disbelievers in battle, as a form of defence.

The verse was revealed in the context of a battlefield, with a grave threat to the lives of the Muslims at a time when people coming to Islam were being heavily persecuted, and God is saying you are allowed to defend yourself during this battle. It is therefore not a statement made in vacuum to indiscriminately go out and kill people who did not believe, but disbelievers who persecuted Muslims.

I bet if someone wanted to kill you, you would not wait for a go ahead to defend yourself, because it would be well within your rights and anybody would understand your natural defensive response.

Another Example That Shows the Importance of Context

Another verse that is heavily used to accuse Islam of being violent is chapter 2, verse 191, which reads:

“And kill them wherever you find them.” (Quran 2:191)

Context, guys! All one need to do is read the verses before and after this verse to understand what this really means. The verse before (190) says:

“Fight in the way of God those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. God does not like transgressors.” (Quran 2:190)

Here, God is saying to only fight those who fight you but do not transgress meaning do not use excessive or unnecessary force. And if someone continues to read the verse in contention (191), they will find that the rest of the verse says:

“…and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah [persecution] is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al-Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.” (Quran 2:191)

Once again, the verse is instructing Muslims not to fight until the opposition fights them first. The verse after (192) says:

“And if they cease, then indeed Allah is Forgiving and Mericful.” (Quran 2:192)

And finally (193):

“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” (Quran 2:193)

So to summarise, these verses are saying:

  • Only fight them, if they fight you i.e. you are allowed to engage in self-defence
  • When fighting, don’t transgress and do anything unnecessary
  • If they stop fighting, then you stop your aggression too because aggression can only be towards oppressive people

Sounds fairly rational to me.

As you can see, I’ve had to go into lengthy detail to explain just a few verses from the Qur’an. Now I hope you can appreciate the toil scholars go through to explain the Qur’an, especially those who have written volumes of commentary on it.

And I also hope you can appreciate why it irks Muslims when someone picks up an English version of the Qur’an, picks a random verse and says ‘Hey, look, this is what Islam is about’.

Be active, not passive readers and if you have questions, ask experts and do not assume.


Source: sailanmuslim website with some modifications

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Revelation and How It Came to the Prophet Muhammad

Revelation and How It Came to the Prophet Muhammad

By Ahmad von Denffer

God guides His Creation

Allah, the Creator, has not only brought about the creation, but continues to sustain and direct it, in the way that He has created us and all that is around us. He has provided many forms of guidance, indeed, a system of guiding principles, of which the laws of ‘nature’ are a part.

The word awha, from which ‘wahy’ (revelation) is derived, occurs in a number of shades of meaning in the Qur’an, each of them indicating the main underlying idea of inspiration, directing or guiding someone.

But Allah has also granted a special form of guidance for mankind from the outset of its occupancy of the earth. He promised to Adam and his descendants:

‘Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosoever follows guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve’ (Quran 2: 38).

[The word here used for guidance is hudan.] This guidance comes through the prophets, whom Allah continuously sent to mankind, until the last messenger, Muhammad received His final guidance.

Guidance through Revelation

We call a man to whom God in His own way communicates His guidance, a prophet or messenger (nabi, rasul). Prophets receive the word of God through revelation and then communicate it to their fellow human beings:

‘Indeed, We have given REVELATION to you, (O Muhammad,) even as We gave REVELATION to Noah and the prophets after him- and (as) We have given REVELATION to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and (to) the (prophets of the) Tribes (of Israel), and (to) Jesus, and Job, and Jonah, and Aaron, and Solomon. And We gave David the Psalms (as a revelation).

Thus there are messengers of whom We have told you before and other messengers of whom We have not told you. And (it is true that) God spoke (directly) to Moses His very word, indeed!

They were messengers- bearers of glad tidings and forewarners- so that after (the coming of) the messengers people would have no argument before God (to justify their misdeeds). Indeed, ever is God overpowering, all-wise.’ (Quran 4: 163-5).

The three words italicized (capitalized) in the above translation are both derived from the Arabic root ‘wahy‘.

The Meaning of Wahy

The word awha, from which ‘wahy‘ (revelation) is derived, occurs in a number of shades of meaning in the Qur’an, each of them indicating the main underlying idea of inspiration, directing or guiding someone. In each example below, the italicised words in the translation are forms of the root word wahy in the original text of the Qur’an:

  • Guidance in natural intuition:

‘so we sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses . . .’ (Quran 28: 7)

  • Guidance in natural instinct:

‘and thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and in (man’s) habitations’ (Quran 16: 68)

  • Guidance by signs:

‘So Zakaria came out to his people from his chamber: he told them by signs to celebrate God’s praises in the morning and in the evening’ (Quran 19: 11)

  • Guidance from evil:

‘Likewise did we make for every messenger an enemy evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception …’ (Quran 6: 112)

  • Guidance from God:

‘Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message) …’ (8: 12)

Means of Revelation

Wahy in the sense of ‘revelation’ is guidance from God for His creation, brought by the Prophets, who received the word from God through one of the means mentioned in the following Qur’anic verse:

‘It is not fitting for a man that God should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by sending of a messenger to reveal with God’s permission what God wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise’ (Quran 42: 51)

Means of revelation are:

  • Inspiration, e.g. in a dream (see Quran 37:102, where it is related that Ibrahim receives guidance in a vision, while asleep, to sacrifice his son).
  • Speech hidden away (see Quran 27:8, where it is related that God spoke to Musa from the fire).
  • Words (speech) sent through a special messenger from God (see Quran 2:97, where it is related that God sent the Angel Gabriel as the messenger to Muhammad to reveal His message).

The Qur’an revealed to Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad, the last of God’s messengers, received the revelation of the Qur’an through a special messenger sent by God for this purpose: the Angel Gabriel, who recited to him God’s words exactly.

The Descent of the Qur’an

According to Suyuti’ [al Itqan fi ulum al quran, Beirut, 1973, Vol. I pp. 39-40] on the basis of three reports from ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, in Hakim, Baihaqi and Nasa’i, the Qur’an descended in two stages:

  • From the lauh al-mahfuz, the ‘well-preserved tablet’, to the lowest of the heavens (bait al-‘izza) of the world, all together, in the laila al-qadr.
  • From the heavens to earth in stages throughout the twenty-three years of Muhammad’s Prophethood, and first in the laila al-qadr of Ramadan, through the Angel Gabriel.

This second descent from the heaven to the heart of the Prophet is referred to in Sura al-isra’ (17) and Sura al-furqan (25).


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Ulum al-Quran: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran” with some modifications.

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