by Sister Mary
Muslims believe the Quran to be the word of God, revealed more than 1400 years ago through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The scene is Makkah, Arabia. Muhammad (peace be upon him), illiterate and orphaned in early childhood, was a merchant well-known for his honesty which earned him the nicknames “Al Amin” meaning "faithful, trustworthy" and "Al Sadiq" meaning "truthful". At age 40, he received the first of many revelations from God which were to be revealed to him over a period of 23 years, collectively known as the Quran. The content, style and depth of the Quran were so unique and astounding, the Arabs who prided themselves on their amazing literary talents, were left dumbfounded and perplexed as to how and from where Muhammad (peace be upon him) could have produced it.
Commenting on the Quran, Harry Gaylord Dorman said: “Its miraculous quality resides partly in its style, so perfect, and so lofty that neither men nor jinn could produce a single chapter to compare with its briefest chapter, and partly in its content of teachings, prophecies of the future, and amazingly accurate information such as the illiterate Muhammad (peace be upon him) could never have gathered of his own accord.”
PRESERVATION AND AUTHENTICITY
How do we know that the Quran hasn’t been altered (intentionally or otherwise) and that what we have today remains as it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 1400 years ago?
Furthermore, as the Quran was sent down as the FINAL testament, it would be imperative for it to be preserved and withstand the test of time. To this end, Allah promises us that He will preserve and protect it “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur'an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [15:9] How has this preservation been achieved?
The Quran has been transmitted both verbally and in writing by numerous persons in an unbroken and verified chain starting from the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to this very day. It was preserved in numerous different ways even during the Prophet’s lifetime: he had the text committed to writing by scribes, many of his companions learned, and memorized the Quran in its entirety by heart (their memorization strengthened by their daily recitation during prayers) and a considerable number of literate companions kept private records of the text. The first Caliph Abu Bakar collected all written records of the Quran and collated them in book form and in the era of the 3rd Caliph Uthman, many copies were prepared and distributed and became the standard manuscripts of the Quran which form the basis of subsequent copies found today in any regular mosque, bookstore & Muslim household (or smartphone!).
The Quran stands out as the only religious scripture in the world that can be readily found all over the world in its ORIGINAL LANGUAGE and FORM, completely unchanged & with only ONE VERSION. For instance, every word of the Quran on my bedside table and phone application matches that of this ancient copy recently discovered (http://www.aljazeera.com/…/world-oldest-quran-manuscripts-u… ) as well as many other copies that are on display in major museums. And any attempt to change even a single word of it can be immediately detected by the millions today who have memorized it.
The Quran isn’t some archaic document of which only a handful of copies still exist, written in a language that is almost lost, accessible to only a select few. It is well alive, revealed and preserved in a language that is still used & understood by millions, and memorized & recited daily in almost every corner of the world.
INFALLIBILITY OF THE QURAN
Any book that claims to be from God must be able to pass the “litmus test” - it must be PERFECT and free from error since its author God is perfect and infallible. As if to challenge its reader to show otherwise, immediately after the opening chapter, the Quran boldly declares itself to be free of error: “This is the Book about which there is NO DOUBT, a guidance for those conscious of Allah” [2:1]. This then, sets the stage and tone for the incredible content that is to follow.
Dr Gary Miller asserted that “Calling the Quran amazing is not something done only by Muslims who have an appreciation for the book, and who are pleased with it. It has been labelled amazing even by non Muslims as well. In fact, even people who hate Islam very much have still called it amazing. One thing which surprises non Muslims who are examining the book very closely is that the Quran does not appear to them to be what they expected. What they assume is that they have an old book which came fourteen centuries ago from the Arabian desert, and they expect that the book should look something like an old book from the desert. And they find out that it does not resemble what they expected at all.”
What, then, is so amazing about it? In the coming lessons, we will discuss the miraculous nature of the Quran from a scientific, historical and linguistic perspective.
[Islam 101 is specially brought to you by sister Mary, Vice President of MRM]
1. Islam the Misunderstood Religion, Dr Danial Zainal Abidin
2. Towards Understanding Islam, Harry Gaylord Dorman
3. The Amazing Quran, Gary Miller
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