Muslims believe the Quran to be the final revelation of God. They believe it is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The Quran is full of wisdom. It is full of the wonder and glory of God, and a testament to His mercy and justice. It is not a history book, a storybook, or a scientific textbook, although it contains all of those genres.
The Quran is the greatest gift from God to humanity – it is a book like no other. In the second verse of the second chapter, God describes the Quran by calling it a book whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are pious, righteous, and fear God.
It is core to Islam. Believing in it is a requirement. One who does not believe in the Quran, in its entirety, cannot claim to be a Muslim.
Islam has two primary sources, the Quran, and the Hadith, that explain and sometimes expand on that of the Quran.
And We have not sent down the Book to you (O Muhammad), except that you may explain clearly unto them those things in which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a folk who believe. (16:64)
Angel Gabriel delivered the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and revealed in stages over a period of 23 years.
And (it is) a Quran which We have divided into parts, in order that you might recite it to men at intervals. And We have revealed it by stages. (17:106)
God commanded the Prophet Muhammad to convey the Quran to all of humankind and the responsibility weighed heavily upon him.
The Quran explains the concept of God. It explains in detail what is permissible and what is forbidden. And it explains the basics of good manners and morals, and gives rulings about worship. It tells stories about the Prophets and our righteous predecessors, and describes Paradise and Hell. It is a message for all of humankind.
The book in which the Quran (the words of God) are contained in is called a mus-haf.
When God sent Prophets to the various nations, He often allowed them to perform miracles that were relevant to their particular time and place.
In the time of Moses, magic and sorcery were prevalent. Therefore miracles of Moses appealed to the people he was sent to guide. In the time of Muhammad, the Arabs, although predominantly illiterate, were masters of the spoken word. Their poetry and prose were considered outstanding and a model of literary excellence.
When Prophet Muhammad recited the Quran – the words of God – the Arabs were moved tremendously by its sublime tone and extraordinary beauty. The Quran was Prophet Muhammad’s miracle from God.
Muhammad was unable to read or write therefore the Arabs knew that he was unlikely to have produced such eloquent words, but even so some refused to believe that the Quran was the word of God. God therefore challenged them to produce a rival text.
And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Quran) to Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a chapter of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides God, if you are truthful. (2:23)
Of course they were unable to do so. In contrast to those who questioned the origin of the Quran, many Arabs converted to Islam after hearing the recitation. They knew immediately that such sublime beauty could originate only from God.
Even today it is possible to see Muslims moved to tears while listening to or reciting it.
In fact some people, unable to understand even one word of the Arabic language are moved by the intrinsic beauty of the Quran.
The Preserved Book
After establishing that Quran is the word of God and that it is a recitation, it is also important to understand that it has remained unchanged for more than 1400 years.
Today when a Muslim in Egypt holds his mus-haf in his hands and begins to recite you can be sure that in far away Fiji another Muslim is looking at and reciting the exact same words. There are no differences. The child in France holding his first mus-haf is tentatively reciting the same words that flowed from the lips of Prophet Muhammad.
God assures us that He will surely protect His words. He says:
Verily, it is We Who have sent down the Quran and surely, We will guard it (from corruption). (15:9)
This means that God will guard against anything false being added or any part of it being taken away. It is protected from tampering and if anyone attempts to distort the meanings of Quran, God will guide someone to expose the deception.
Muslims believe that the previous revelations from God, including the Torah and the Gospels of Jesus were either lost in antiquity, so it is a source of comfort to them knowing that God’s words are now well guarded.
God sent down the Quran, from above the heavens, to the Angel Gabriel in the glorious month of Ramadan.