What is Qur’an?

Introduction to Qur’an

Qasim Hersi Farah (Ph.D.)

Somali Researcher and Thinker, Chief Editor

The Qur’an was verbally revealed on 22 December 609 CE by Allah to His last Messenger, Muhammad (May Allah Bless him and Grant him Peace – hereafter PBUH), through the Angel Gabriel. It had gradually been revealed over a period of approximately 23 years. Finally, it was conclu ded by Allah in 632 CE, a few days before the death of the Messenger. The last statement/verse of such a revelation is that in which, Allah says: “This day, I have perfected your religion for you and I have completed my Favor over you, and I have approved for you Islam as a religion” (Qur’an: Al-Ma’idah: 3).

Whereby the Qur’an is the final Divine Message sent down in a form of revelation, in its entirety to mankind, it is of utmost importance for human beings to become aware of what this Divine Message is all about. In this paper, I attempt to gain valuable definition and inside into the meaning of the Qur’an along with its synonyms, which are The Scripture/The Book, The Criterion, Hadith/The Informative Speech, and The Remembrance.

Finding out the definition of the Qur’an does not need any hypothetical, theoretical, philosophical, pedagogical, or complicated analytical studies. It has already been defined by Allah, the Almighty. All we have to do is to read the Qur’an itself in an exploratory manner to find out its definition, description, meaning, and objective. In the Qur’an, five terms define the naming of the Qur’an, which are:

  1. The Qur’an – The Reading
  2. The Scripture – The Book
  3. Hadith- The Informative Speech
  4. Al-Furqan – The Criterion
  5. Al-Thikri – The Remembrance/
  6. Reminder.

The combination of all these five terms makes one single sentence, which is “The reading book for the remembrance of the criterion and the informative speech”. This means Qur’an is a sacred Scripture that must be read to obtain Divine information and a legislative system of having standardized criteria and classification of every issue and matter. These are the issues and matters of every era everywhere, which may concern everybody, but more specifically to the believers of the Islamic monotheism.

Islamic terms are basically defined under both linguistic and technical perspectives.

Technically, Qur’an is the word of Allah revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which is miraculous by its methods of wording, versing, approaching, advising, designing, sophistication, and recitation. With these entire stylish approaches, Qur’an’s basic objective is to teach and remind people how to have themselves connected to Allah through worship, while being beneficial and friendly with Allah’s Creatures. It consists of 6236 Divine verses clustered into 114 chapters. These verses start from the Holy Scripture’s opening chapter (Al-Fatihah) and end to its last chapter called An-Nas – the People. Every single word of these verses was instantly written down, in the Prophet’s presence, by special secretaries who were among the Prophet’s Companions. Thus, all the verses of the Qur’an were authentically documented and chronicled promptly.

To understand the principles of this article’s theme, both comprehensively and intrinsically, let us deliberate the numerical miracles of the abovementioned five nomenclatures of the Qur’an. If one counts how many times each of these five terms was mentioned in the contexts of the Qur’an, one would find out that their proportional number indicates how much each term is important and necessary. For instance, the word Qur’an was mentioned in the Holy Qur’an 68 times, while the Scripture was mentioned 319 times, and the term Al-Thikri (The Remembrance) was mentioned 55 times. In addition to these three appellations, the word Al-Hadith (The Informative Speech) was mentioned 13 times, while the word Al-Furqan (The Criterion) was mentioned 6 times.

Each of these five nomenclatural appellations was numbered based on its

subjective and objective appliance and alliance with the given context as well as its historic remarks in providing relative services. Whereby the latter two provide information for guidance, their mention is less than the mention of the former three, which describes the targeted document. Yet, all the five terms are complementary with one another, interchangeable among themselves, comparable with one another, and synonyms of one another. Observing the theme from another angle, the abundance of the names of the Noble Qur’an is evidence for its greatness, honor, comprehensiveness, completeness, and Divine Status.

Since it is Allah’s verbatim word Qur’an is incomparable with any other book. This argument can be proven true by using the

average human logic. All the Qur’an’s words, for instance, were officially documented upon their revelation and, on the spot, were memorized by dozens of men and women of the Prophet Mohammad’s companions. Those Qur’an memorizers passed their memories to the generation followed who passed the same to the next, and the tradition has been and still is persistent to this date. Today, if all the copies of the Qur’an on the face of the earth were burned down and destroyed leaving no single copy behind, the Qur’an will fully survive. Millions of Muslim men and women from every nation and race, of the entire humankind in the world, will come forward to recite it from memory. All of them will recite the same letters, words, verses, paragraphs, pages, and chapters of the same Scripture.

More miraculously, all of them will be reading the same Qur’an in the same tone, pronunciation, punctuation, style, intonation, consonants and, vowels. Those people from across the world who are different in language, culture, upbringing, ethnicity, racial background, educational level, and continental residence will pronounce the same verses of the same words, sentences, passages, paragraphs, pages, and chapters until they recite the entire Scripture from cover to cover. Even though they linguistically do not understand one another, they all understand one another with the recitation of the Qur’an. For instance, if a reciter of an Arabian background errs in his recitation, a Chines reciter will spontaneously correct him.

Another considerable phenomenon is that since its first revelation of approximately 1455 years ago (the Islamic calendar began in 622 CE – 10 years after the first revelation, and in the Islamic calendar, months end either to 29 or 30 days, but never to 31 days), no single word or accent of the Qur’an has been changed, omitted, replaced, dropped, added, twisted, disappeared, or fall under dispute. That miracle is based on Allah’s promise stated as: “It is certainly We Who have revealed the Reminder/Remembrance, and it is certainly We Who will preserve it” (Qur’an: Al-Hijri.9). In this theme, let us analyze each of the five terms mentioned above one after another:

1. The Qur’an:

The wording of the Qur’an is being derived from the verb read, and it was called the Qur’an because it was recited in tongues as a sign of its preservation in human minds. Thus, Qur’an is a name specifically given to the final and absolute Message revealed and sent with Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to convey it to the entirety of mankind. By definition, it means ‘The One for Reading”. That is to say, it is the reading of a particular essay that connects one passage to another and then to another until it connects numerous passages together to cover all the 6236 verses of the Qur’an. Thus, in general, it is defined as the one to be read, passages for reading, readable document, and that one which must be recited, deliberated over, remembered, and applied to the people’s day-to-day activities. The first word of the Qur’an revealed was “Read”. In full sentences, Allah says: “Read! In the name of your Lord Who created, (1) Created man from a coagulate/clot. (2) Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, (3) Who taught by the pen, (4) Taught man that which he knew not” (Qur’an: Al’Alaq – The Embryo: 1-5).  

The term ‘Read’ carries numerous valuable norms, commandments, instructions, and teachings. Among them are the following:

  • Awakening or a wake-up call
  • Awareness
  • Illiteracy elimination
  • Literacy encouragement
  • Mental exercise
  • Learning Allah
  • Obeying Allah
  • Implication for enlightenment
  • Educational initiation
  • Enhancement in a schooling method
  • Conducting scientific studies
  • Application of knowledge
  • Engaging in scientific innovation and worldly development
  • Endeavouring in competing over the promotion of theories and
  • philosophes
  • Creating social civilization and public interaction, and more.

 2. The Divine Scripture or the Book.

The term was mentioned by Allah, in the Qur’an, 319 times in different contexts. It is being derived from the verb wrote, and linguistically the meaning of the verb is the written manuscript in a plural form. That means the Qur’an was called a Scripture/ Book because it is a compilation of 6236 verses in 114 chapters/suras, and that it was written in books with pens. Moreover, it is a representation in its method of being preserved and collected in a diary. On the other hand, the term Scripture describes all the Divine Books (Risalah – Risa’il in plural), Scriptures, Scrolls, and Tablets revealed by Allah to His different Messengers preceding Mohammad.

Depending on the passage, by using the term Scripture, Allah addresses the chain of Scriptures (Rasa’il) revealed, some of them, one of them, all of them, or the main Registry Scripture of Allah called “The Sacred Preserved Tablet” (Lawhul-Mahfuz)”. In general, the term indicates that the Qur’an must be written, combined, compiled, and documented in a particular Book, and that Book must be prepared and used for reading, learning, studying, contemplating over, and applying it into one’s day-to-day activities. While the Qur’an is a particular name for the Message revealed to the last Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), the Scripture is an assembling diary of the Qur’an as well all it’s precedent revelations. Thus, Qur’an is one of the successional stages of Scriptures revealed by Allah in different eras to different Messengers for different generations.

3. Al-Furqan – The Criterion:

This term is being derived from the verb difference, meaning to separate and differentiate between right and wrong. Thus, the term Criterion designates that the Holy Qur’an differentiates between the truth and falsehood as well as between guidance and misguidance. It also gives an intrinsic description of the verses of the Qur’an that specifies teachings, clarifications, classifications, rulings, recommendations, and commandments.

4. Hadith – The Informative Speech:

The Hadith means or can be translated to each of the following words: The speech, the message, the statement, the story, the history, the talk, the news, new, modern, conversation, information, narrative, newly born, recent incident, tradition, custom, anecdote, chronicle, and ritual religious practices. In the Arabic language, each of these 20 linguistic terms, the combination of some, or the total of all is adaptable to hadith.

Having such a length description, any hadith other than the hadith of Allah, which means the Qur’an, is subject to falsification and fabrication. That is why it is subject to be verified, clarified, criticized, rejected, or accepted as wisdom and not as a revelation. Being a human statement it can be re-evaluated, de-evaluated, desisted, censured, canceled, underrated, excluded, or recommended to be a part of a nation’s custom. When it comes to the narratives of the former generations, they are always open for discussion and disregard as each of them was limited to a certain nation, place, date, circumstance, and lifestyle. Moreover, it is not a part of Allah’s Divine Message documented in the Qur’an or revealed besides, or alongside, the Qur’an.

On the other hand, when the only recognized hadith is that of Allah, it has one particular objective, which is to believe in Allah and respect His Creatures of mankind as well as the rest of the ecosystems in the cosmos. The hadith of Allah may be restricted to the stories of the previous sacred Scriptures, Messengers’ approaches of admonishing, nations’ mischievous, or individuals’ wrongdoings. It provides parables regarding the consequences of their evildoings as lessons to be learned by generations to come. This means anyone who may determine disobedience to Allah and arrogance to people must pay the price of his or her felony. Thus, in the Qur’an, the term Hadith is mainly linked to the narration of conflicts, dialogues, arguments, and admonitions between various selected nations and their Messengers to clarify the negative consequences of the arrogant peoples’ evildoings and the flourishing results obtained by the righteous people. All in all, Hadith is Allah’s universal law/order and management.

5. Thikri:

Thikri means Remembrance. This term has been mentioned in the Qur’an over 55 times. It has been mentioned in numerous contexts of the Qur’an as news, utterance, remembrance, devotion, mentioning, telling, notifying, informing, saying, dialogue, and more importantly, deliberating sincere prayers.

Most of these five terms have always been unique in the Arabian pedagogies and dialogues both linguistically and technically. The term Qur’an, for instance, has never been used in any of the Arabian literature, poems, story-telling, or traditions that existed before and after the revelation of the Qur’an. Therefore, Qur’an is a unique term known to describe the Divine Scripture of the Islamic Monotheism revealed to Mohammad (PBUH). Similarly, the term Criterion was only used in this revelation as a synonymic complementary term of the Qur’an, which indicates that the Qur’an was revealed to classify between the right and wrong to maintain everything in a balanced positive manner.

On the other hand, the term Scripture has been commonly used before the Islamic Faith was revealed. It is a term used to describe

any Religious Book, but mainly those of Abrahamic Faith (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), the three sister Divine Messages. To play its role in naming, it has been mentioned in the Qur’an more times than its corresponding names. Finally, the term Hadith focuses on parables, examples, admonitions, comprehensions, miraculous demonstrations, proselytization, pearls of advice, understanding, and learning lessons from what happened to the previous nations/generations of prosperity or poverty as well as social destruction or construction. Therefore, it is a term that is specific for the revelation – Qur’an, yet, it may be used for the designation of other narratives and stories but not as a Divine Revelation. When using it for any dialogue other than the Qur’an, it is often used negatively. For instance, Allah says in His revelation: “Then in what statement (hadith) after it (Qur’an) will they believe in?”

Therefore, Qur’an is the sole identifiable reference of Islam and it is sufficient to be used for reference, guidance, educating, and worshipping Allah. Being sufficient to the believers of the Islamic Monotheism, as well as the entire mankind, Allah condemns the use of any other religious reference besides the Qur’an as a Holy Scripture. Allah says: “… or do you (disobedient) have a book (revealed by Allah) that you read. Wherein

you find that you will indeed have whatever you prefer to have” (Qur’an: Al-Qalam– The Pen: 37-38).

However, the question arises as ‘why do we need to rename our Holy Scripture by changing its God-given name – The Holy Qur’an’?

In short, the Divine Message of Allah is being defined by Allah as the Qur’an Scripture, which contains the Message of Criterion and Remembrance leading one to be guided to the best principles and piety. This is what secures one’s salvation both in this world and hereafter. Even though all the above-mentioned five terms are reserved for the Qur’an, three of them are more popular than the other two. These three are Al-Qur’an, Al-Thikri, and Al-Furqan (The Reading, The Remembrance, and the Criterion respectively). These three terms form one sentence which is “Reading to Remember the Criterion”. About the other two names; one is the Scripture, which refers to the volume of the Qur’an’s verses as well as any other Holly Book revealed by Allah, while the other is the Informative Speech, which often indicates one of the Qur’an’s aspects.

To comprehend the objective of this article, please stay awaited part two.

Qasim Hersi Farah (Ph.D.)

Somali Researcher and Thinker

Chief Editor

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