The Qur’an

The Qur’an is for the Muslim what the Bible is for the Christian. According to Islam, the Qur’an is the supreme revelation of God given to Mohammad by the angel Gabriel. The Qur’an is the uncreated, eternal word of God. Anyone who says that the word of God is created is an infidel. Reading the Qur’an is widely considered to bring rewards.

The Qur’an contains chapters of encouragement, sarcasm, argumentation, response, mercy, and even ruthlessness. The Qur’an actually admits to contradictions and addresses them by saying that later revelation trumps earlier revelation. The Qur’an was revealed to Mohammad over a period of 22/3 years.

Textual matters

The first official collection of the Qur’an took place under Caliph, Abu Bakr. One of the challenges for Islam is that regional variations occurred in copies of the Qur’an written or memorized, so that third Caliph, Uthman, made an official collection in 649/50. This challenge continued until Abu Bakr bin Mujahid standardized the text. As a result of his efforts, seven readings of the Quranic text were accepted as canonical. Translations of the Qur’an are considered commentaries on the     Qur’an rather than translations.

The Structure

James White tells us that “The Qur’an’s organization is neither chronological nor topical. In fact, its arrangement seems rather pedestrian.[1] If you read the Qur’an from front to back, you would essentially be reading about the supposed revelations of Mohammad out of order. The Qur’an is divided into 114 chapters. A chapter is also known as a surah. Each chapter has a number that is tied to a key word or theme in the chapter. The Qur’an has more than 6200 verses compared to the Bible which contains 31,102. The Qur’an presents a holistic theology, addressing all areas of life and allowing for now distinctions between the sacred and the secular.

Jesus in the Qur’an

Surah 19:27-33 contains a record of Jesus supposedly speaking from his cradle as an infant. Surah 19:34-37 denies that Allah could have a son. “It is not befitting to [the majesty of] Allah that he should beget a son.” Surah 43:57-65 contains the teaching of a second coming of Jesus. In fact, White tells us that this teaching receives as much if not more speculation than it does in some Christian quarters. There are even references in the Qur’an to Jesus and Mary being a sign. Surah 2:135-137 points out that Muslims believe in what was given to Moses and to Jesus.

White says, “The Qur’an itself should be understood within the context of seventh-century Arabia, and its teachings against polytheism, social injustice, and more should be acknowledged. At the same time, its elevation to ultimate authority, in light of its manifest and documented ignorance of the preexisting revelations, has been found untenable; it leads to confusion and contradiction.

The purpose of this post is to give only the basic details about the Qur’an. Most of the information contained in this article is derived from Introduction to World Religions, Christopher Partridge, General Editor, and James White’s What Every Christian Should Know About the Qur’an. There are more detailed apologetic and theological responses and interactions with Islam in the works. Stay tuned!

[1] James R. White, What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 2013), 51.