The Quran is the holy book which Muslims recite and turn to for guidance in all aspects of their lives. Its verses have remained intact since their original revelation by God in the 7th century. This brochure explains the divine origin of the Quran by elaborating upon its preservation, authenticity and miracles. It also discusses the Quranic message which has universal appeal and is relevant for all times.
The Quran is the last testament in a series of divine revelations from God (Allah in Arabic). It consists of the unaltered and direct words of God, which were revealed through the Angel Gabriel to Muhammadp, the final prophet of Islam, more than 1400 years ago.
Islam is a continuation of the message received by previous prophets, such as Noah, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all. Therefore, the Quran maintains the pure teachings of previous revelations, including the Torah and the Gospel. The Quran describes that all the prophets taught people to believe in the One God, the Creator. The messengers also instructed them to spend their lives with God-consciousness, doing good deeds and avoiding sins. Moreover, they warned their fellow humans of accountability in the afterlife, a subject which the Quran returns to again and again.
Since its revelation, the Quran (also spelled ‘Koran’) has remained preserved in its exact, primary text. While numerous translations of the Quran exist, they are all based on the single, original Arabic script, making the Quran unique from previous scriptures in its pure authenticity.
The distinctive approach of the Quran is that its spiritual message includes practical injunctions aimed at the general welfare of individuals, society and the environment in which we live.
The Quran’s message is eternal and universal, transcending our differences in race, color, ethnicity and nationality. It provides guidance on every facet of human life – from economics and the ethics of trade to marriage, divorce, parenting, gender issues and inheritance.
Monotheism is a prominent theme of the Quran, affirming that God is One without any partners. In a concisely-worded Quranic chapter, God commands, “Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him’” (112:1-4). [Read more: Belief in One God]
A foundational message in the Quran is its emphasis on righteous conduct built on firm belief and love for God. The Quran acknowledges human desires while reminding individuals to cultivate their souls. In addition, God calls on humans to use their intellect and reflect on the world around them. The Quran encourages humankind to recognize the signs of God’s existence in the precise order of the universe and the careful placement of every object in the total scheme of creation.
As Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), former British pop star, has expressed, “Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Quran; it asks you to reflect and reason… When I read the Quran further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt the only answer for me was the Quran and God had sent it to me.”
Muslims believe that God sent many revelations to humanity throughout history, and over time they underwent changes from their original form. However, God chose to preserve His message to humanity in His final revelation, the Quran. Yet, one might wonder, which evidence supports the claim that the Quran has never been modified?
The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammadp over a period of 23 years. The unique rhythmic style of the Quran made it easy to memorize, which has been the main source of its preservation. Moreover, since Prophet Muhammadp could not read or write, he appointed scribes to record the Quran as it was being revealed to him. Thus, the complete Quran was not only memorized by Prophet Muhammadp and many of his companions, but it also existed in its entirety in written form during his lifetime. [Read more: Biography of Muhammad (pbuh) by a non-Muslim]
Within a year after Prophet Muhammadp’s death, a manuscript of the entire Quran was assembled by a committee led by his chief scribe, who followed stringent criteria to safeguard against any errors. This copy was approved unanimously by Prophet Muhammadp’s companions, including hundreds that had memorized the entire Quran. Eventually, several copies of the Quran were compiled in book form and distributed to the major Muslim cities. One such copy is currently at the museum in Tashkent and a facsimile of it, produced in 1905, is available in the Columbia University Library.
The process of memorization began during Prophet Muhammadp’s life and is still emphasized by Muslims to this day. In his book, An Introduction to Hadith, John Burton explains that oral transmission through the generations aids preservation by diminishing reliance solely on written records. Manuscripts which are not protected through memorization can be altered, edited or lost overtime. However, a book that is committed to memory by millions of people across the world over centuries cannot be changed due to the amount of people who know it word-for-word.
God promises in the Quran, “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly Guard it (from corruption)” (15:9).
Many people mistakenly believe that the Quran was authored by Prophet Muhammadp. In fact, the Quran is the preserved speech of God. At the same time, one might ask, which proofs indicate that the Quran is the Word of God and not the writings of Prophet Muhammadp?
In the Quran, God addresses Prophet Muhammadp, “You never recited any Scripture before We revealed this one to you; you never wrote one down with your hand” (29:48). In other words, Prophet Muhammadp, who was known to be illiterate, neither read any previous scriptures nor wrote the Quran.
Prophet Muhammadp was greatly regarded in his society for his superior character and exceptional manners, earning him the title of the ‘Truthful One.’ Even after his prophethood, the elite of Mecca were ready to make him their leader, so long as he allowed them to continue their pagan lifestyles. Yet, he was willing to forego all worldly glory in order to fulfill his mission. As a result, he suffered patiently through persecution and exile before ultimately succeeding in revolutionizing the entire Arabian Peninsula.
Through it all, God kept on revealing the Quran to him piecemeal. Occasionally, the revelations stopped temporarily, reminding him and others that he had no control over them. Once, when two envoys posed some questions to him, he replied, “Tomorrow I will tell you.” He expected God will inspire the answers in him through revelation and he waited for Angel Gabriel. However, revelation did not come during the next few weeks even as Meccans taunted him. Finally, God sent him the response while admonishing him, “Do not say of anything, ‘I will do that tomorrow,’ without adding, ‘God willing’” (Quran, 18:23-24).
The Quran was revealed at a time when the Arabs excelled in oral poetry. However, despite his intelligence, Prophet Muhammadp was not skilled in composing poetry. Yet, when the Quranic verses were recited, they stunned even the most acclaimed poets in the society. Deeply moved by the rhythmic tone, literary merit and penetrating wisdom of the Quran, many converted to Islam. Indeed, the science of Arabic grammar was developed after the revelation of the Quran, using the Quran as a basis for devising its rules.
There are many miracles in the Quran which themselves attest to the fact that this truly is a divine scripture.
The Quran mentions phenomena that were unknown at the time. In fact, many were only recently discovered by modern science.
For example, God describes the stages of human development in the womb:
We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place, then We made that drop into a clinging form, and We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms –– glory be to God, the best of creators! (Quran, 23:12-14)
Professor Keith Moore, a prominent scientist of anatomy and embryology at the University of Toronto, Canada, has stated, “It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Quran about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God … because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later.”
The Quran also describes the expansion of the universe: “And it is We who have built the universe with (Our creative) power; and verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it” (51:47). It was not until 1925, when Edwin Hubble provided evidence of receding galaxies, that the expanding universe came to be accepted as a scientific fact.
Professor Alfred Kroner, a world-famous geologist, explained: “Thinking about many of these questions and thinking where Muhammad came from, he was after all a Bedouin, I think it is almost impossible that he could have known about things like the common origin of the universe, because scientists have only found out within the last few years with very complicated and advanced technological methods that this is the case.”
“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God, who believe in the unseen…” (Quran, 2:2-3).
The Quranic message is relevant to every nation and era – another proof that the Quran is truly the Word of God. Intending for this Book to remain a source of guidance, inspiration, wisdom and healing for all of humanity, God designed its message to transcend the bounds of time.
The Quran’s divine message applies to all aspects of life and rises above the superficial differences among humans. Its teachings guide the spiritual, social and intellectual needs of humanity. It encourages us to remember God often, to humble ourselves before Him, to fulfill our promises, to work together as a community and to remain patient and perseverant in times of hardship. Quranic stories teach us the importance of placing our trust in God, speaking the truth in the face of injustice and dealing with fellow humans with mercy.
In a world starved of love and compassion, the Quran’s universal message provides the solution to the collective despair of the human condition. We invite you to open it and receive the great benefit this book has to offer.
This is a blessed Book which We sent down to you [Muhammad], for people to ponder over its message, and for those with understanding to be reminded. (Quran, 38:29)
Note: The subscript p next to Prophet Muhammadp represents the invocation Muslims say with his name: May God’s peace and blessings be upon him.
Authenticity of the Quran
If the Qur’an is authentic, then what about the Bible, torah, and other sacred texts like it? Answered by Imam Shabir Ally.