There are over seven hundred Ayat in the Quran that deal with scientific facts. In the present time, we understand many of those Ayat. Other Ayat imply different meanings, and we do not have enough information to interpret their meaning correctly. This subject of the scientific miracle of the Quran is becoming increasingly fascinating. The available amount of work is so voluminous, and some of the studies are so scientifically detailed. It is very difficult to cover this huge subject in one book, let alone a chapter in a book. However, an attempt will be presented to introduce some of the recent advances in this subject.

The scientific verses in the Quran represent serious challenge to the atheists as well as the Christians. This challenge in no way represents a negative process, but a positive one that keeps humanity reflecting on the many miraculous signs of God as stated in the Quran. How else can anyone explain that an unlettered Arab in the seventh century stated scientific facts that became known after fourteen centuries? Can there be any reasonable explanation except that the Creator of all realities revealed these facts to him? These verses also serve the purpose of providing Muslims with yet another proof of the Divinity of the Quran.

The history of the scientific miracles of the Quran goes back to the time of the revelation to Muhammad (Pbuh). The Prophet and his companions had interpreted some verses according to human perception at that time. Also, the Hadith of the Prophet include many statements that deal with life sciences. The accuracy of those scientific statements is quite astounding considering the fact that he was unlettered. Dr. Abdel Razik Nofal wrote one on the pioneering books on this subject in Arabic with the title "Allah and Modern Science." The book was an original attempt to explain the following Ayah:

Surah 54, Ayah 49 "Verily, all things have we created in proportion and measure (perfection)."

The author concentrated on the proportions that relate to life on earth and how they represent a perfect balance provided by Allah. For example, the amount of oxygen in the air is perfect; if it is less, humans will not be able to breathe; if it is more, fires could start everywhere. Also the distance of the earth from the sun is perfect; if it is less, we will burn from the heat of the sun; if it is more, we will freeze. Potentially deadly radiation is kept at bay by the terrestrial atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and water vapor help warm the surface, but there is no runaway effect because both are perfectly recycled in various ways. On earth, complex life forms exist consisting of human, vegetable and animal life, from microscopic bacteria to huge elephants, and from minute viruses to giant trees. Although the earth possesses a dense core surrounded by an outer crust and an atmosphere, it has this unique difference - life. During the twentieth century, it has become clear that life exists on earth only because conditions are perfect. Moreover, the chemical and biochemical environments are in perfect balance, to ensure not only the existence of living things but also their continuity.

During the last decades, the number of books and papers that deal with this subject, from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, increased tremendously. Many Muslims understood the orders from Allah to "read", "look", and "think" as a call for a better appreciation of the Power of God. Also, Islamic institutions exist in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt that focus on the scientific miracle in the Quran.

Translation of the Quran



Translating the whole Quran is a tremendous task. It requires scholars who are fluent in the Arabic language and the language to which the Quran is being translated. It also requires knowledge of the grammar of the two languages. If the translation is intended for those who are blessed with faith or for those who seek the basics of Islam, then the existing translations are a great dose of faith and spiritual guidance. May Allah rewards the translators of the Quran for their efforts in spreading the Words of God. If, on the other hand, the translation is intended to address the scientific miracles, the knowledge and mastering of the Arabic language is crucial as indicated in the case of the French surgeon Maurice Bucaille. He studied the Quran with an open mind for ten years. The purpose of his study was to form an opinion about contradictions in the Quran. He studied the Arabic language. Then after ten years of research, he declared in his books that he did not find one single scientific contradiction in the Quran. Another approach for the scientific translation of the Quran is to have an organization consisting of specialists of all branches of science such as cosmology, medicine, geology, anatomy, and engineering, as well as Islamic studies

Some non-Muslims scholars claim that the "translated" Quran contradicts scientific known facts. There are many reasons for that. First, there may exist a conflict of theological interest. Second, the lack of knowledge of the Arabic language and its grammar can mislead the meaning of some verses. Also, the translation of the Quran to other languages may be, in some verses, difficult, thus not conveying the Arabic meaning of short sentences. Allah is the only Author of the Quran, and there are no contradictions in the Quran. Translations of the Quran are nevertheless the work of highly eminent Arabists. It is well known fact, that a translator, however an expert, is liable to make human mistakes in the translation of a highly specialized scientific Ayah, unless he happens to be a specialist in the discipline in question.

An example of translating scientific verses in the Quran deals with the definition of the building block of all matters. Atoms were assumed to be the smallest unseen part of matter. Neither the atom nor its components can be seen. However, each atom has a weight, and scientists discovered the constituents of the atom. In one such Ayah, Allah addresses the unbelievers with a challenge about the weight and components of atoms:

Surah 34, Ayah 3 "The unbelievers say’ "never for us will come the Hour (Day of Judgment): say, Nay. But most surely, by my Lord, it will come upon you by Him who knows the unseen. From Whom is not hidden the weight of an atom in the heavens or on earth: nor is there anything less than that or greater, but is in the Record Perspicuous."

The available translation refers to the above Arabic words "the weight of an atom" as "the least little atom," and the word "weight" is taken out. This demonstrates the difficulty in translating the Quran. Thank God, anyone can refer to the original Arabic text and get better translation. From the above Ayah, one can state the following:

· The atom is unseen.

· The atom is not the smallest thing in the universe.

· The atom has a weight.

Ancient commentators considered the weight of the atom to be equal to the weight of an ant! They believed this because the ant is the smallest thing that can be seen with the human eye. But this is not correct because the Ayah clearly refers to the unseen not the seen ant. When the fourth Caliph, Ali, the cousin of the Prophet, was asked about the meaning of the atom, he said:

"If we look inside the atom, any atom, we will see a sun in its core." This statement, showing the spiritual vision of Ali, was never understood until the twentieth century. But it clearly simulates the atomic structure with that of the solar system.

In my attempt to address the subject of the scientific miracles of the Quran, I tried to use the existing English translations. In many places, I found difficulty in using these translations. The following are some examples:


  • Stars are translated as planets, and planets are translated as stars.

  • The basic rules of the conjunctions in the Arabic language are not translated correctly. For example, existing translations do not address the difference between Arabic conjunctions "fa" and "thumma". The first implies immediate succession, while the second implies succession after a delay in time, and this can make a big difference in some branches of science such as cosmology and embryology.

  • Some translators do not reflect the actual Arabic meaning or are unable to grasp the scientific meaning. For example, God states that He is expanding the universe; this is translated as the universe is "so expanse, to make wider, more spacious, to extend, to expand, we give generously."


Finally, there are rules for interpreting the Quran. The basic rule is that the Quran interprets itself. This implies that the words are divinely inspired; so any text can be interpreted in the light of other texts where the same word exists. Moreover, the statements of Muhammad interpreted many verses of the Quran. He was the living example of the teaching of the Quran.


he Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in sections throughout the twenty-three years of his prophethood. The Era of the Prophet (PBUH) 609-632 CE

The Qur’an was the main miracle given to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to prove that he was a true prophet of Allah and not an imposter. So, the Qur’an had to be saved to prove to the later generations that Muhammad (PBUH) was really the last prophet of Allah. All of the false prophets who came after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought books which they claimed to be revealed from Allah, but none of them have the miraculous ability to be memorized by thousands, nor have they improved on the message of the Qur’an.

One of the leading orientalists, Kenneth Cragg, said the following regarding the memorization and preservation of the Qur’anic text, “This phenomenon of Qur’anic recital means that the text has traversed the centuries in an unbroken living sequence of devotion. It cannot, therefore, be handled as an antiquarian thing, nor as a historical document out of a distant past.”[1] Another orientalist scholar, William Graham, wrote: “For countless millions of Muslims over more than fourteen centuries of Islamic history, ‘scripture’, al-kitab,has been a book learned, read and passed on by vocal repetition and memorisation. The written Qur’an may ‘fix’ visibly the authoritative text of the Divine Word in a way unknown in history, but the authoritativeness of the Qur’anic book is only realized in its fullness and perfection when it is correctly recited.”[2] Yet another, John Burton, stated: “The method of transmitting the Qur’an from one generation to the next by having the young memorize the oral tradition of their elders had mitigated somewhat from the beginning the worst perils of relying solely on written records...”[3] At the end of a voluminous work on the Qur’an’s collection, Burton stated that the text of the Qur’an available today is “the text which has come down to us in the form in which it was organised and approved by the Prophet....What we have today in our hands is the mus-haf[4]of Muhammad.”[5]

With every succeeding generation of Muslims, the numbers of those who memorized all of the Qur’an has increased. Today there are literally hundreds of thousands of Muslims throughout the world who have done so.

There is no other book, religious or otherwise, which has been memorized on this scale in recorded history. The Qur’an is about four-fifths the length of the New Testament of the Christians, yet not a single person in recorded history is known to have memorized the New Testament completely.  In fact, if all of the books in the world were somehow destroyed, the only book which could be rewritten, word for word, without a single mistake is the Glorious Qur’an.

The Qur’an has been preserved in both the oral as well as written form in a way no other religious book in history has.

Tashkent, This is one of the oldest Quran in the world about1400 years old , it was compiled in Medina during Othman time , the third caliph (ruler) of islam , and one of the companion of the prophet Muhammad .


Why did Allah preserve the Qur’an and allow His earlier books of divine revelation to be changed or lost?  The answer to that question lies in the following facts:

  1.  The earlier prophets and their books were sent to a particular people in particular periods of history. Once the period ended, a new prophet was sent with a new book to replace the previous book. So, it was not necessary that these books be preserved by Allah. The preservation of the earlier books was left up to the people as a test for them.  Thus, when the people went astray, they changed what was written in the books which their prophets brought in order to make allowable the things which were forbidden to them. In that way, all of the earlier books of revelation became either changed or lost.

  2.  Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the last prophet whom Allah sent, and he was not sent to a particular people or a particular time. He was sent to all of mankind until the end of the world.  Allah said in the Qur’an,

{ وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلاَّ كَافَّةً لِلنَّاسِ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ }

“I have only sent you (Muhammad) as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind, but most men do not understand.”[6]

Thus, his book of revelation, the Qur’an, had to be specially preserved from any form of change or loss so that it would be available to all the generations of man until the last day of the world.

The significance of the Qur’an’s preservation is that Islam has been kept in its original purity because of it.  Humanity can always return to the sources of Islam no matter what people may have added or forgotten in time. All of the essential principles of Islam are to be found in the Qur’an.  Consequently, the preservation of the Qur’an meant the preservation of Islam in its final form. The loss of the Gospel of Jesus means that Christians can never return to the true teachings of Prophet Jesus except by accepting Islam.[7] Similarly, the original Torah was lost when Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians.[8] Thus, the Jews cannot return to the pure teachings of Prophet Moses except by following Islam.

            It is only in Islam that the pure teachings of the prophets have been preserved without any change.  That is why Allah said in the Qur’an,

“Verily, the only acceptable religion to Allah is Islam.”

[1]  The Mind of the Qur’an, p. 26.

[2]  Beyond the Written Word, p. 80.

[3]  An Introduction to the Hadith, p. 27.

[4]  The Arabic term used to refer to the text of the Qur’an.

[5]  The Collection of the Qur’an, p. 239-40.

[6] Soorah Saba’ (34):28.

[7] See The Five Gospels, pp. 2-16.

[8] See The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 14, p. 757.



The Quran is not only unique in the way in which it presents its subject matter, but it is also unique in that it is a miracle itself. By the term “miracle,” we mean the performance of a supernatural or extraordinary event which cannot be duplicated by humans. It has been documented that Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, challenged the Arabs to produce a literary work of a similar caliber as the Quran, but they were unable to do so in spite of their well-known eloquence and literary powers. The challenge to reproduce the Quran was presented to the Arabs and mankind in three stages:

l.     The Whole Quran

In the Quran, God commanded the Prophet to challenge all of creation to create a book of the stature of the Quran:

“Say: ‘If all mankind and the jinn would come together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce its like even though they exerted all and their strength in aiding one another.’” (Quran 17:88)

2.     Ten Chapters

Next, God made the challenge ostensibly easier by asking those who denied its divine origin to imitate even ten chapters of the Quran:

“Or do they say that he has invented it? Say (to them), ‘Bring ten invented chapters like it, and call (for help) on whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful.” (Quran 11:13)

3.      One Chapter

This final challenge was to produce even a single chapter to match what is in the Quran, whose shortest chapter, al-Kawthar, consists of only three verses:

“And if you all are in doubt about what I have revealed to My servant, bring a single chapter like it, and call your witnesses besides God if you are truthful.” (Quran 2:23)

These challenges were not just empty words with no one caring to prove them wrong. Prophet Muhammad’s call to monotheism, to the abolition of idolatry in all its forms, and to the equality of slaves and their masters threatened the whole socio-economic framework of Mecca society in general, and the position of the ruling Quraishee tribe from which the Prophet came in particular. Mecca, the trading center of Arabia, as well as its spiritual center, desperately wanted to stop the spread of Islam. Yet all that the Prophet’s opponents had to do to crush the movement was to make up a single chapter like any one of those which the Prophet and his followers were reciting to the people. A number of Quraishee orators and poets tried to imitate the Quran, but they failed. They then resorted to offering him vast amounts of wealth, the position of king over them, and the most noble and beautiful of their women in exchange for his promise to stop inviting people to Islam. He responded to them by reciting the first thirteen verses of Chapter Fussilat, until they asked him to stop.[1] The Quraish also resorted to torturing their slaves and relatives who had embraced Islam in a vain attempt to cause them to revert to paganism. Later they organized an economic boycott against the Prophet his followers and the members of his clan, Banu Hashim, in an attempt to starve them into submission. But even this plan eventually failed. Finally, they plotted to kill him in his home by sending armed young men from each of the clans of Quraish in order that the guilt of his murder be shared by all the clans, making revenge by the Prophet’s clan impossible.

However, God enabled the Prophet and his followers to flee Mecca and join a new band of converts who had arisen among the tribes of a city to the north called Yathrib. Islam spread rapidly through the clans of Yathrib, and within a year Muslims became the city’s majority. Prophet Muhammad was then made the ruler, and the name of the city was changed to Medina an-Nabi (The City of the Prophet may God praise him), which was then shortened to “Medina.” Over the next eight years, the clans of Mecca and its neighboring lands mounted a series of unsuccessful battle campaigns against the emerging Muslim state in Medina, which ended with the Muslim invasion of Mecca itself.

All of this bloodshed could have been avoided if only the Quraish and their allies had been able to produce a mere three lines of poetry or flowing prose similar to the shortest chapter of the Quran. Hence, there can be no doubt about the inimitability of the Quran’s literary style, about the miracle of its rhyme and the marvel of its rhythm.

It has been suggested that the inimitability of the Quran is not necessarily unique, for great English poets like Shakespeare, Chaucer, or great poets in any language tend to have distinctly unique styles which set them apart from their contemporaries. However, if, for example, some leading poet of today were to make an in-depth study of Shakespeare’s writings and write a sonnet in Shakespeare’s style in old ink and on old paper, then claim that he had discovered a lost poem of Shakespeare’s, the literary world would probably accept this claim, even after careful study. Thus, even the greatest of poets could be imitated; no matter how unique his style was, just as the famous painters have been imitated. [In fact, some English scholars consider much of what has been attributed to Shakespeare to have been written by his contemporary, Christopher Marlowe.] The Quran, however, is way above this level, as attempts to forge chapters have been made throughout the ages, yet none has withstood close scrutiny. And, as was mentioned before, the incentive to imitate the Quran was more intense during the time of its revelation when literally skills were at their peak than at any other time, yet there was no successful attempt.

By:Dr. Bilal Philips


[1] Collected by al-Hakim, al-Bayhaqee, Aboo Ya’laa and Ibn Hishaam, and declared Hasan by Ibrahim al-’Alee in Sahih as-Seerah an-Nabaweeyah, p.64.




Who authored the Quran?  Someone must have produced it!  After all, how many desert men have stood up in the history of man and given the world a book like the Quran?  The book has amazing details of past nations, prophets, and religions as well as accurate scientific information unavailable at the time.  What was the source of all this?  If we were to deny the divine origin of the Quran, we are left with only a few possibilities:

- The Prophet Muhammad authored it himself.

- He took it from someone else.  In this case, he either took it from a Jew or a Christian or one of the foreigners in Arabia.  The Meccans did not bother to accuse him of having taken it from one of them.

A brief response from God is:

“And they say, ‘Legends of the former peoples which he has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.’  Say, [O Muhammad], ‘It has been revealed by He who knows [every] secret within the heavens and the earth.  Indeed, He is ever Forgiving and Merciful.’” (Quran 25:5-6)

It was well known to his detractors that Muhammad, who was raised among them, never learned how to read or write from the time of his birth.  They knew whom he befriended and where he had traveled; they acknowledged his integrity and honesty by calling him ‘Al-Ameen,’ the Reliable, the Trustworthy, the Honest.[1]  Only in their revulsion against his preaching did they accuse him – and then it was anything they could dream up: He was accused of being a sorcerer, a poet and even an imposter!  They could not make up their minds.  God says:

“Look how they strike for you comparisons; but they have strayed, so they cannot [find] a way.” (Quran 17:47)

Simply, God is aware of what is in the heavens and the earth, He knows the past and the present, and reveals the truth to His prophet.

Could Muhammad Have Authored It?

It is impossible that Muhammad could have authored the Quran due to the following reasons:

First, several occasions presented themselves where he could have fabricated revelation.  For example, after the first revelation came, people awaited to hear more, but the Prophet did not receive anything new for months.  The Meccans began making fun of him, ‘His Lord has abandoned him!’  This continued until the 93rd chapter, Ad-Doha, was revealed.  The Prophet could have compiled something and presented it as the latest revelation to end the mockery, but he did not.  Also, at one point during his prophethood, some of the hypocrites accused his beloved wife Aisha of being unchaste.  The Prophet could have easily fabricated something to free her of blame, but he waited for many excruciating days, all spent in pain, mockery, and anguish, until revelation came from God freeing her from the accusation.

Second, there is internal evidence within the Quran that Muhammad was not its author.  Several verses criticized him, and were on occasion strongly worded.  How can an imposter prophet blame himself when it may run him into the danger of losing the respect, perhaps following, of his followers?  Here are some examples:

“O Prophet!  Why do you prohibit [yourself from] what God has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives?  And God is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 66:1)

“…while you concealed within yourself that which God is to disclose and you feared the people, while God has more right that you fear Him..” (Quran 33:43)

“It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire.” (Quran 9:113)

“But as for he who came to you striving [for knowledge] while he fears [God], from him you are distracted.  No!  Indeed, they [these verses] are a reminder.” (Quran 80:8-11)

If he were to hide anything, he would have hid these verses, but he recited them faithfully.

“And he [Muhammad] is not a withholder of [knowledge of] the unseen.  And it [the Quran] is not the word of a devil, expelled [from the heavens].  So where are you going?  It is nothing but a reminder to the worlds.” (Quran 81:24-27)

The Prophet is cautioned, perhaps warned, in the following verses:

“Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you.  And do not be an advocate for the deceitful.  And seek forgiveness of God.  Indeed, God is ever Forgiving and Merciful.  And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves.  Indeed, God loves not the one who is a habitually sinful deceiver.  They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from God, and He is with them [in His knowledge] when they spend the night in such as He does not accept of speech.  And God ever is encompassing of what they do,.  Here you are – those who argue on their behalf in [this] worldly life – but who will argue with God for them on the Day of Resurrection, or who will [then] be their representative?  And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of God will find God Forgiving and Merciful.  And whoever earns [i.e., commits] a sin only earns it against himself.  And God is ever Knowing and Wise.  But whoever earns an offense or a sin and then blames it on an innocent [person] has taken upon himself slander and manifest sin.  And if it was not for the favor of God upon you, [O Muhammad], and His mercy, a group of them would have determined to mislead you.  But they do not mislead except themselves, and they will not harm you at all.  And God has revealed to you the Book and wisdom and has taught you that which you did not know.  And ever has the favor of God upon you been great.” (Quran 4:105-113)

These verses explain a situation in which a man from the Muslim inhabitants of Medina stole a piece of armor and hid it in the property of his Jewish neighbor.  When the owners of the armor caught up with him he denied any wrongdoing, and the armor was discovered with the Jewish man.  He, however, pointed to his Muslim neighbor, also denying his involvement in the crime.  The people from the Muslim’s tribe went to the Prophet to plead on his behalf, and the Prophet began to incline towards them till the above verses were revealed clearing the Jewish man of wrongdoing.  All this despite the Jew’s rejection of Muhammad’s prophethood!  The verses instructed Prophet Muhammad himself not to side with the deceitful!  The verses:

“…and do not be an advocate for the deceitful and seek forgiveness of God…and if it was not for the favor of God upon you, [O Muhammad], and His mercy, a group of them would have determined to mislead you.”

If Muhammad himself authored the Quran, thus being a lying imposter, he would have made sure that there was nothing in existence which could jeopardize the gaining of followers and supporters.  The fact that the Quran, on various occasions, reprimands the Prophet in certain issues in which he had made in incorrect judgment is in itself a proof that it was not authored by him.



[1] ‘Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings, p. 34.

The Qur’an: unique among Scriptures

The Qur’an is the most often-read book in the world. Revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the 7th century, and revered by Muslims as being God’s final Scripture and Testament, its words have been lovingly recited, memorised, and implemented by Muslims of every nationality ever since. The faithful are inspired, consoled often moved to tears by its eloquence and poetic imagery, especially when recited aloud. And yet, the Qur’an is unique in being the only Scripture that is free of scientific inaccuracies, whose historical authenticity can be verified, and whose text has been so carefully preserved that just one authorised version (in Arabic) exists. Approximately the length of the New Testament, the Qur’an is also the only holy book that can be memorised in its entirety by people of all ages and intellectual abilities – including non-Arabic speakers – which Muslims consider to be one of its miracles. We invite you to take a few minutes to learn something about a book that is the foundation of the world-view and culture of almost one-fourth of the people on this planet.  

A scientific Scripture for a scientific age

One of the most remarkable things about the Qur’an is that it contains many verses which accurately describe natural phenomenon in various fields such as embryology, meteorology, astronomy, geology and oceanography. Scientists have found its descriptions to be inexplicably valid for a book dating from the 6th century; in fact, many of the processes and functions mentioned in the Qur’an have been discovered only recently. This fact alone has been the cause of a number of distinguished scientists embracing Islam. It also explains why the conflicts that emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages between faith and reason, religion and science, never arose in Islam; the Qur’an repeatedly encourages people to reflect and use their intelligence, and most Muslim scientists and inventors have also been pious believers.   

Some of the Qur’an’s ‘scientific’ verses include an accurate description of embryonic development during the first forty days of life; an explanation that the roots of mountains are like pegs which help to anchor and stabilise the earth’s crust; that a natural barrier exists wherever two seas meet (each maintains its own salinity, temperature and density); that waves occur in layers in the depths of the ocean; that the heavens and earth were first joined together before being split apart; and that the heavens emerged from ‘smoke’, i.e. the gases and dust that characterise nebulas as stars are forming.   

The Qur’an was never meant to be a ‘science textbook’; whether highlighting the wonders of nature or the lessons of history, its verses direct us to reflect on the glory of God. However, no other ancient book or Scripture is accurate in this way. Muslims believe that this is one of the Qur’an’s proofs; one of the things that makes it a credible, ‘living revelation’ for a modern age, and allows it to reveal itself afresh with passing time.

The Qur’an and the development of knowledge

The word ‘qur’an’ means ‘recitation’, and the first verse of the Qur’an to be revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad was a command to ‘Read (or recite)! In the name of your Lord…’ This directive to a man who, like most people of the time, could neither read nor write, marked the beginning of a new age in human communication, learning, and development. Whereas earlier Scriptures had been written and passed down by elite circles of priests and scribes – usually long after the death of the religion’s founder – the preservation of the Qur’an was a community effort from the beginning, and it was completed during the Prophet Muhammad’s own lifetime. The Prophet’s early followers eagerly memorised and recorded each new revelation as it was revealed; by the time he passed away, thousands had memorised the entire Qur’an by heart. Within two years after the Prophet’s death, the first caliph Abu Bakr requested the Prophet’s secretary Zayd to collect all existing copies and fragments of the Qur’an in one place, in order to compile a standard edition. This manuscript became the basis for the authorised editions that were distributed to each Muslim province during the rule of ‘Uthman, third caliph; remarkably, a few of those early manuscripts have been preserved and can still be viewed in museums today.   

Following the example of the beloved Prophet, who encouraged all Muslims, male and female, to seek beneficial knowledge, mosques became centres of learning as well as prayer. The concept of universal, free basic education originated in Islam; children learned to read, write, memorise the Qur’an and do basic maths at village mosque schools; bright students were sent to cities to pursue higher education. The world’s first universities, hospitals, and postal services were established by Muslims. Early caliphs set up institutions like the ‘House of Wisdom’ in Baghdad, where scholars were paid to translate scientific, literary and religious works from every known language into Arabic. It was this open-mindedness that inspired Jews and Christians under Muslim rule in Spain to translate classical Roman and Greek texts from Arabic into European languages, sparking the European Renaissance.  

A book with a message and a purpose

Like all books, the Qur’an is a means to convey a message – in this case, a very special message from the Creator to all humanity. The Qur’an is an ‘owner’s manual for the human being’; whoever wonders about the purpose of life and their own existence will find it to be a guide par excellence. Building on prior revelations, this Final Testament confirms the age-old truths of previous Scriptures, but clarifies points of faith where error or confusion have crept into them over the centuries. Those who have read the Bible will find much that is familiar: descriptions of God’s handiwork; stories of the Prophets, Satan, angels and the Day of Judgement; moral and ethical guidelines; and spiritual practices like prayer and fasting. Yet the Qur’an is not just a re-hashing of old stories; its perspective is unique and fresh, and its worldview eminently suited to people of today.  

To give one example, according to the Qur’an, God held Adam and Eve jointly responsible for tasting the forbidden fruit; no special curse was laid on Eve for leading Adam astray, and no ‘original sin’ came into being, to be inherited for all time by innocent children. Adam and Eve simply sought His forgiveness and were forgiven, and Adam (peace be upon him) is respected in Islam as the first Prophet.   

There are other important distinctions between the Qur’an and the Bible; the Qur’an asserts that much of the original books of the Bible and other Scriptures have been lost or corrupted over time (whether through warfare, political intrigue, religious schisms or other reasons). One only has to consider the number of different versions of the Bible in use today, the lack of ‘first’ originals, and the late discovery of long-lost Scriptures like the Dead Sea Scrolls to realise that this viewpoint is an objective one. The Qur’an rejects the concept of salvation or special privilege based on ethnicity; God does not discriminate on the basis of race or colour. It also denies the need for the sacrifice of innocent life – animal or human – in order for people to attain salvation. It states that Jesus (peace be upon him) was not crucified as claimed, but that God saved him from his enemies, as one would expect of God’s honoured and beloved Messenger; his life was meant to be an inspiring example. Spiritual salvation is to be achieved solely through humble repentance, coupled by an attempt to make amends for one’s sins, and a sincere intention not to repeat one’s mistakes in the future. There is no official priesthood in Islam, and the Imam is no more than a knowledgeable prayer-leader and brother in faith; one’s sins need only be confessed directly to the Creator.   

The Qur’an’s main message is to call people to turn to the Source of all being and the Giver of life, and to serve Him with a pure heart, free of idolatry or superstition. In Islam, ‘One God’ means just that: there is no concept of trinity, or anything else to complicate one’s understanding. Like the single nucleus of a cell or an atom, He Alone is the ‘control centre’ behind it all; anything else would lead to chaos and confusion. God is Unique and without partner; He was not born and did not give birth; He is All-Compassionate and Merciful, Almighty and Just, and the only One we need turn to for guidance and help. Anything that we allow to come between ourselves and our Creator – even our own egos – is an idol. Wealth, fame, physical attraction and all the pleasures of this world will someday fade, and we will not be able to take them with us when we die. Only our faith and good deeds will remain, to light our graves and be a beacon for us on the Day of Judgement.  

Although no translation of the Qur’an can faithfully capture its Arabic meaning (and all Muslims are encouraged to learn Arabic), the following excerpt illustrates these points beautifully:  

‘Recite to them the story of Abraham,

When he asked his father and his people, ‘What do you worship?’

‘We worship idols,’ they replied, ‘and we are ever devoted to them.’

He said, ‘Do they hear you when you cry?

Or do they benefit or harm you in any way?’

They said, ‘No, but this is what we found our forefathers doing.’

He said, ‘Do you see, then, what you and your forefathers have been worshipping?

Truly, they are all my enemies, except the Lord of the Worlds,

Who created me, and Who guides me,

And Who feeds me and gives me to drink,

And when I am ill, He heals me,

And Who will cause me to die, and give me life again;

And Who, I ardently hope, will forgive me my sins on the Day of Judgement.

O Lord, grant me wisdom, and unite me with the righteous,

And grant that I may be remembered well in future generations,

And make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Delight;

And forgive my father, for he is one of those who is lost;

And do not disgrace me on the Day when all will be resurrected,

The Day that wealth and children will not avail anyone,

Except one who brings to God a clean heart.’

(The Qur’an, Chapter of ‘The Poets’, 26:69–89)


More Articles ...

Sign up via our free email subscription service to receive notifications when new information is available.