What is Qur’an – that came as the final Revelation to mankind?
Author: Dr. P.R.Palodhi
By Dr. P.R. Palodhi
The emanated ‘world of existence’ and the immutable ‘words of God’ in Qur’an are the two veritable works of God before us. According to its message, the Holy Qur’an is the final and last ‘Revelation’ for mankind before dissolution of the earth (Q, 82 & 84) and has been protected by the Divine Power (Q, 5: 48; 85: 21) so that no one could defile it like the cases of past scriptures of Revelation. Addressing Angels (Q, 35), Jinns (Q, 72), Humans (Q, 76), and other members of creation, God’s Final Revelation came by ‘perfecting and completing religion’ in Qur’an (Q, 5:3). The Qur’an is the Mother Book (Q, 6:38; 43:4; 6:92) complete in Truth sent by the Lord of the worlds – in order to lead mankind out of depth of darkness into light (Q, 14:1). It is the guiding light (nûr, 42:52) for illuminating the inner soul of muttaqin* i.e. those who apprehend God and seek guard against evil. To seekers, Qur’an renders guidance for total achievement of falah al-Darain i.e. prosperity in both life of this world (Here) and the life of next world (Hereafter).
How God reveals? Reflection into Qur’an demands an understanding from its Message: how God reveals to His chosen Prophets? God’s Revelation in Arabic expression is Wahy: meaning guidance from God for His creation, brought by the chosen Prophets who receive the Words from God. There are two types of revelation: (i) Wahy Matlu – the recited immutable Word of God; (ii) Wahy Ghayr Matlu – need not be in recited mode. Here also the message comes from the God in response to the Prophets’ prayers, these words are either explained by the Prophet (e.g. Hadith-al-Nabawi), or Words of God are repeated by the Prophet (e.g. Hadith-al-Qudsi). Revelations come through various means like: (i) Inspiration: e.g. Prophet Abraham received guidance in a vision while asleep (Q, 37: 102); (ii) Speech from behind the veils: e.g. God spoke to Prophet Moses from the fire (Q, 27: 8); (iii) Through Angels: e.g. God sent Angel Jibra’īl as the messenger to reveal His message to Prophet Muhammad (Q, 2: 97). The Arabic and Hebrew word for ‘Prophet’ is ‘Nabi’ – derived from the root ‘Naba’ meaning ‘to announce’ or ‘to give the news of matters unseen’. Prophets come up by glorifying the ‘Name of God’ and piously acknowledging God as their source of ‘received wisdom’; they announce only what they receive from God, and never misguide people by self-made theories about God and religion. That is why all Prophetic messages (from Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus and Muhammad etc), irrespective of time, place and tradition, are inherently consistent and coherent. Prophets are of two kinds, i.e. major and minor. In all ages great many Prophets have come to announce the God’s Will to fellow men, but in vital stages Prophets especially have come with the Scriptures of Revelation (Book of God); they are called Messengers or Rasul (in Arabic). Since its birth mankind has received guidance from God to balance ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ so that men may stand forth in justice (Q, 57:25). In this context, it is noteworthy that God guides animal kingdom as well in natural instincts: ‘your Lord taught ‘awha’ to bees to build its cells in the hills, on trees, and in man’ habitations’. (Q, 16:68).
Language of God’s Book from antique past to last Revelation: Apparently, innumerable records of past Revelations have been obliterated by the passage of time; but from greatest of the Islamic scholar, Imam al-Ghazali, we hear that the originals of all Divine Books (kutub al-Samawiyyah) are preserved in Lawh al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet in seventh heaven). The Qur’an (26: 196) has reminded us about the archaic Divine writs of the former generations as Zubu-ril – ‘awwaliin’; which points to early records Divine words in the form of various ‘pictorial symbols’ – the writings of the former people. Scientific linguistics affirmed that early mankind expressed through picture symbols. Each symbol represents an Idea. Symbols express most in the least — constant consorting with it renders man the intimacy and familiarity with the contrivances of the Transcendent Reality, as well as it allows the imaginations and expressions much more flexibility than expressions in alphabetic words. It is apparent that in prolonged Trials of ancient generations, God has allowed more freedom of imagination and its expression via modes of picture Symbols; whereby the latitude of divaricated human choices has become explicit before God. And gradually the ‘process of enfolding’ began by changing the mode of expression from ‘symbols’ to alphabetic ‘words’. ‘Symbol’ sanctions more imagination and free expression, while ‘Word’ limits such freedom and brings up the very intention of an expressed idea.
The Qur’an informs various records of past Revelations like Suhuf, Tawrat, Zubur, and Injiil etc, before it finally came to Prophet Muhammad as ‘reading’ or ‘recitation’ i.e. Qara’a. Investigations of linguistic science affirmed gradual language evolution from archaic pictorial to hieroglyphic and cuneiform etc which finally culminated in the alphabetic versions of either Semitic like Hebrew and Arabic etc – or the non-Semitic languages like Sanskrit, Latin, and Greeks etc of the Aryans (while picture writing continued to prevail in China land). Religious guidance for mankind that began with Adam – was recycled in post-Flood world by raising successive Prophets from lineage of Noah’s son Shem (Semites) – and finally it culminated in the Revelation to Prophet Muhammad in Arabic Qur’an. Following are the pictures of some preserved Qur’an (sources are given in the end below references).
(Page of 13th century Quran, Sura 33:73) Uthman Qur’an
The final Revelation for mankind came in Arabic when the languages of our new world gradually had assumed the definite alphabetic forms. In the evolution of proto-Semitic, the Arabic alphabet derives from the Aramaic script through Nabatean, to which it bears a loose resemblance like that of Coptic or Cyrillic script to Greek script. Arabic preserves virtually all distinctive features of proto-Semitic – like inflection, systematic dual endings, and full consonantal distinctions which have generally been lost or merged in middle Semitic. With the passage of time when the previous revealed scriptures of Judeo-Christianity and Zoroastrianism lost authenticity of original Prophetic words – the Qur’an arrived as a Divinely guarded pure text in the original language of Revelation.
Arrival of Qur’an and formalization of the Scripture: The Guarded Tablet – Qur’an (85:21-22) was first sent to Bayt-ul’Izzat (the house of honour) of this world and then was revealed in ‘words’ bit by bit (Inzal) and gradual sending (Tanzeel) to Muhammad rendering him as the ‘SEAL’ of all previous Prophets of God (Q, 33:40); as Witness and Bearer of good tidings and Warner (Q,33:45); as Summoner, and as a Lamp that giveth light (Q, 33:46). In the cave Hira on 15th night of Ramadan, the first verse came into being: ‘Recite in the Name of your Lord who created….’; and the last verse revealed on 9th Dhul Hijjah in 10th year of hijrah: ‘This day We have perfected for you your Religion’. Angel Jibra’īl (Gabriel) was God’s emissary for transferring the Qur’an to the heart of human Messenger (qalb al-Rasul). Prophet’s companion asked: “How does Wahy descend on you”? Prophet replied: “Sometimes I listened to a sound like the tinkling of the bell; this sound is one of the most difficult forms of wahy that I have had to experience. When this process is over – it (wahy) is implanted into my memory, and sometimes an Angel has appeared in the form of a man”  (Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 1, p.2). Through wahy Prophet received âyât of Qur’an and also certain other incidents which did not form the part of Qur’an.
From esoteric transmission of Islam we come to know that the Almighty Allah’s Final Revelation has come to unlettered Prophet Muhammad orally through the angel Jibra’īl over a period of twenty-three years (ten years in Makkah and thirteen years in Madinah), beginning in 610 AD, when he was forty, and concluding in 632 AD, the year of his death. Every single ‘Revealed Words’ to Muhammad have been immediately written down on tablets, parchments etc by the scribes under his direct supervision ; Muhammad approved the written form and entire ‘Revelation’ has been recorded during life time of the Prophet. Those Arabs were known for their excellent memory. The Qur’an was memorized, recited and written down by Muhammad’s companions after Prophet Muhammad dictated every word of Qur’anic âyât. Most of Muhammad’s companions, which gradually rose in numbers, learned the Qur’an by heart, repeatedly recited in front of Muhammad for his approval or the approval of other Sahabas (Prophet’s initial companions). Since the Qur’anic revelation took place in long period of 22 years 2 months and 22 days (between 610 to 632 AD) by way of Inzal (bit by bit) and Tanzeel (gradual sending), it was easy for the Prophet’s followers to recite it by heart, sura by sura and this practice of recitation of the Qur’an by heart had remained unbroken from the time of the Prophet down to the present day. Islamic tradition informed how it was committed in the memory of Prophet’s companion (ashab al-Rasul); and thereafter tradition of huffaz (who could recite entire Qur’an from memory) continued to bloom throughout the world. Arrangement of verses in Qur’an is Divine – since this order was established in the time of Prophet according to instruction of Jibra’īl, the bringer of wahy who received order directly from Allah – the Lord of the worlds. The Qur’an is divided into 114 chapters (suras), and contains 86,430 words, 323,760 letters of Arabic alphabet in 6666 verses (âyât). The frequency of verses on any key word or an issue shows relative importance in the sight of God.
Although the Qur’an was authentically memorized completely by many thousands verbally, it was textually established into a single book form shortly after Muhammad’s death – by order of the first Caliph Abu Bakr suggested by his future successor Umar. Hafsa, Muhammad’s widow and Umar’s daughter, was entrusted with that Quran text after the second Caliph Umar passed away. When Uthman, the third Caliph, started noticing differences in the dialect of the Qur’an, he requested Hafsa to allow him to use the Qur’an text in her possession to be set as the standard dialect, the Quraish dialect aka Fus’ha (Modern Standard Arabic). Before returning that Qur’an text to Hafsa, Uthman immediately made several copies of Abu Bakar’s Qur’anic compilation and ordered all other off-shoot texts to be burned. This process of formalization of the orally transmitted text to Abu Bakar’s Qur’anic text is known as the Uthmanic recension. The present form of the Qur’an text is accepted by most scholars as the original version compiled by Abu Bakr. Thereafter within twenty years of Prophet Muhammad’s death authentic texts of the Qur’an have been distributed in the Islamic world.
Thus Holy Qur’an has remained pure and undefiled to the level of every single revealed word for 1400 years since its arrival. Any present day copy of the Qur’an corresponds to the archaic copies dated from the very first centuries after the Hegira or those Uthman had sent to Islamic world and yet extant in places like Tashkent (USSR) and Istanbul. Thus the Holy Qur’an is the most authentic Book of the ‘Word of God’, the purest living ‘Revealed Scripture’ to the exclusion of any defilation by human interpolations or anachronism, or obscurantism. Hence we hear in Qur’an: “No falsehood can approach it from before or behind it: It is sent down by One Full of Wisdom, worthy of all Praise” (Q, 41:42). Archetypal ‘Words of God’ in the Qur’an are clearly attested by the self evident Divine authority of its supraliminal scriptural anthology, the Prophetic authenticity, and the universality of ‘revealed truths’ in its essential completeness emanating from the Oneness of God (Tawhid).
Tawhid of Qur’an affirms eternal continuity of God’s guidance: The Arabic word Tawhid implies to oneness and unity in polyvalent facets of God’s holistic Truth – awareness of which prevent people from inventing falsehoods in religion. All Prophets preached Tawhid monotheism and guided people to shun false gods, false beliefs, pseudo-rationalities and unethical practices. The knowledge of Tawhid is essentially rational-ethical that comes to integrate awareness of horizontal living on this earth with vertical consciousness of God. Tawhidic guidance finally culminates in the Qur’an; ‘in space’ it appears as a polyvalent pattern embracing all the religions by retracing their essential positions; ‘in time’ it present itself by unifying what has been before it – implying the eternal continuity of God’s Guidance.
The Qur’an informs how pre-human Jinns as well received Guidance from God (Q, 6:130); then humanity’s religion begins with Prophet Adam, and its continuation as Prophet Noah’s religion. Alongside it mentions about waxing and waning of the Divine light to Zoroastrians; and calls Islam the religion of Abraham (millat Ibrahim) by reminding us about the Second coming of Prophet Jesus:
‘And He taught Adam the nature of all things’ (Q, 2:31); ‘God did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people’ (Q, 3:33).
‘The same religion He (God) has established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah…’ (Q, 42:13).
‘It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).’ (Q, 3:3)
‘Then We revealed unto you (Muhammad) that you follow the religion of Abraham, who did not belong to those associating false gods with the God’ (Q, 16:123).
Qur’an prophesies about second coming of Jesus: ‘And Jesus shall be a Sign for the coming of the Hour of Judgment: therefore have no doubt about the Hour, but follow Me: this is a Straight Way’ (Q, 43:61).
Misrepresentations and wild speculations by ‘obscurantism of revealed truths’ so typical of other traditions – certainly are absent in the case of Qur’an. In our present world the ‘Word of God’ in Qur’an has remained wide open to every human enquiry without obscurantism. In any other revealed scriptures, we cannot see ‘complete language of Revelation’ by our own eyes. For the sagacious believers of God’s revelation (i.e., free from bigot chauvinism), grasp of the essential completeness of received wisdom primarily demands the correct measuring criteria i.e. ‘Word of God’ in the language of revelation. The verses of Qur’an affords us a valid starting point for posteriori search, whereby it is possible to trace out the common Axis of ‘Revealed Message’ in remotely older traditions. This, in turn, rectifies many of the accrued misconceptions during later-age rewordings of scripture and identifies how ancestral revealed knowledge had been defiled by the whims and fancies of later age mystics and philosophers.
A glaring example of such defilation is in Hinduism where religion of devas (Vedism) takes charge of pre-Vedic Sanatan Dharma that once taught: ‘Sutra’, ‘Sankhya’ and ‘Yoga’ (postures in prayer before concentrating to God) are pivots at the very base of one’s striving for spiritual knowledge. This in fact reminds us Qur’an’s Ayat, enumerations, and obligatory Salat before invoking to Allah. Such Sanatan Dharmic roots existed in India before arrival of Vedic religion and formation of Vedic Sanskrit; but later age mystics and philosophers became parasitic upon archaic Dharmic roots in order to manipulate those for sectarian ascendancies. Following such Dharmic devolution, latter Hinduism offers us more mutilated ideas of the Sutra, Sankhya and Yoga; especially because – obedience to God i.e. ‘Prapatti’ – the essence of Sanatan Dharma (and all the revealed religions of the world), has been replaced by obedience to gurus and philosophers belonging to different sectarian views who believe only what they want, but not the universal principles of God’s Revelations.
Sankhya (enumeration) of Qur’an: Entire Qur’an is found to be based on true Sankhya (enumeration) – which exposes the philosophical waywardness of Hindu Sankhya doctrine that deviates into speculations of gunas (qualities) of Prakriti (orders of matter and soul), and by guessing the masculine aspect of Purusa (the personal God) into infinite but similar ‘selves’ as they want to fancy. By citing only few cases, let us observe the true sense of Sankhya and profundity of ‘revealed numbers’ in 6666 verses of Qur’an. Examples of some enumerations in Qur’an:
Al-Dunya (worldly Here) = 115 times ↔ Al-Akhira (Hereafter) = 115 times
Al-Mala’ikah (Angels) = 88 times ↔ Al-Sayateen (Satan) = 88 times
Al-Hayat (life) = 145 times ↔ Al-Maout (death) = 145 times
Al-Jinn (Jinns variously) = 51 times ↔ la’nah (curse) = 51
Al-Rajul (man) = 24 times ↔ Al-Mar’ha (woman) = 24 times
Al-Shahr (month) = 12 times ↔ Al- Yahom (day) = 365 times
Al-Bahar (sea) = 32 times ↔ Al-Bar (land) = 13 times
From these examples let us take the case of Sea and Land. If we add sea (32) + land (13) = 45
Now, Sea: (32 x 100) /45 = 71.1% &
Land: (13×100) / 45 = 28.8%
(Thus we get 71.1% and 28.8%, which match the % Sea and Land on the planet earth)
From the above numerical senses of ‘month and day’; ‘land and sea’ we can conceive that the other numbers viz. 115, 145, 88 etc are not arbitrary or vague, rather have implied spiritual meaning, that man has to grasp bit by bit and gradually.
Concluding remarks: Before advent of Qur’an, ‘astronomy-based astrology’ had overwhelmed the civilizations including the Hindu, Greek, Chinese, Maya, Aztec, Babylonian, Egyptian, and others. This astrological astronomy was drifted from its original position by the two fold denials of God (kufr): firstly, associating origin of the world, functions of the heavenly bodies, geophysical features and the natural forces of earth with the demigods, heroes, and spirits etc. Thus pagan sky god Zeus in Greek or Indra in Vedic etc used to rule the sky of pagan mythologies. Secondly, such traditions bestowed power upon the pagan gods and celestial stars to decide the destiny of man and societies, rather than laws of God to give man the power to learn and use natural phenomena beneficially. Inordinate fidelity to such mythological falsehoods only divorce man from the ways of the Divine. Metaphysical knowledge of pre-mental Truths emanate from God and not from man or false gods. Before arrival of Qur’an (7th - 8th centuries AD) Jews and Christians of Europe were living in Dark ages with a decrepit monotheism. Qur’an came to direct thinking process in evolving toward the pre-mental truths behind existence. Some 1400 years ago the Qur’an has reminded mankind that God is Originator (Fatir), Sustainer, Nourisher, Developer, and Manager (Rab) of the whole universe, all members are subservient to His Laws and ordained to be of service (Saqqara) to Him. There cannot be any other rival power but One Supreme Authority, because such integrated system of Universe cannot run by the contradicting wills of different authorities – this is in sharp contrast to what pagan religions try to propagate by inventing myths of their false gods, goddesses and demigods.
Breaking jinx of old world’s myth mania – development of science had to await revelation and application of the Qur’an. The Qur’anic verses ‘preserve’ organic oneness and ‘integrate’ physical science and socio-humanistic sciences, which are pre-ordained to guide mankind for pursuing its quest for knowledge via modes of rational-ethical, or scientific-ethical integrated understanding. In order to reveal Divine omnipotence, Qur’an repeatedly refers to a multitude of natural phenomena, sometimes providing details of the way they evolved, their causes and the effects. All these are extremely intriguing to modern men because at the time of Qur’anic Revelations (1400 years ago) such secrets of heaven, earth and making of man and other kinds were unknown to concurrent generations. George Sarton in his ‘An Introduction to the History of Science’ (1927) elaborated how within about 150 years after Qur’anic Revelation the early Muslims had achieved the world Intellectual Supremacy; and the medieval Islamic civilization had world hegemony in science and learning for 500-600 years during 8th to 13th centuries AD. Caliph’s library at Cordova contained about 400,000 volumes; and where Greek, Indian, and Persian science were rejuvenated and taught. The Qur’an arrived with the scientific world view concerning universe and cosmology that was in basic disagreement with the most accepted beliefs dominating in concurrent early Europe, North Africa, and Asia. To early Muslims the sciences which were knowable by all mankind, based on man’s natural reason (‘aql) and experience, were called natural or rational (tabi’iyyah, ‘aqliyyah) sciences. By way of Islamic value–assessment, early Muslims undertook assimilation of universal ‘rational’ science and technology from the intellectual legacy of pre-existing non-Muslim traditions, viz., the Byzantines, the Sassanid, or Persian, the Greek and the Indian Hindus etc. Such evaluation led the Muslims to separate astronomy from astrology, mathematical science from occult numerology and palmistry, medicine from magic and miracle mongering, chemistry from alchemy, and history from hearsay and fables; in short the knowledge based on proof (burhan) was cleansed from mythology, superstition and mere speculations (zann). Thus for the first time in history, science became international on a world wide scale by breaking Christians’ inhibitory effects on science. Islamic science and learning began to diffuse through Spain and Southern Europe for centuries in the West; and this orientation had profound impact on the founding father of our science. ‘Root ideas’ revealed in Qur’an as regard creation of heaven, earth, mankind and other creatures are being more and more corroborated by the upcoming knowledge of science. But the state of scripturally alive Tawhidic Science lies in humanity’s future, which shall transcend the present quiescent scriptureless-science that tends to move on the surface by playing with mental images while ignoring or even not knowing the possibilities and role of pre-mental realities and ‘requirement of causality’.
The final Revelation has descended to the weakest section of humanity in a barren land – step by step to enlighten the ‘men pertinent to light’ with an authentic text of Revelation. This is a lesson to ‘hubris of human nescience’ that disbelieves in ‘Revealed Guidance’ and tends to thrive on endless emulous speculations about God, religion and creational metaphysics. Evolution of human sentience is a continuous process where falsehoods of human nescience must up-end in order to end-up in actualizing the validity of pre-mental Truths by which humanity has to go on living. Amidst all chaos of materialistic propaganda denying God, the Islam being the last version of God’s religion – has continued to spread universally as the fastest growing religion on earth. A sharp rise is especially noticeable in the recent world population of Muslims (especially via conversion rather than by birth), which is now 23% of 6.8 billion world population, meaning that nearly one in four persons practices Islam (according to study by the ‘Pew Forum on Religion and Public life’ covering 200 countries -Washington, 2009 report, PTI).
* The word ‘muttaqin’ is derived from the word ‘taqwa’ meaning ‘protecting self from harmful things caused by evil and sinful conducts’
1. “The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari” Vol.I, Trans. by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Islamic University, Madina Al-Munawwara, (Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi). (ISBN 81-7151-014-0)
2. ‘The Science of the Qur’an’ by Dr. ‘Abd al-Rahman I. Doi, (Sterling Paperbacks), 2000 (ISBN 81-207-2268-x). And also (Al-Suyuiti, Al-Itqan fi-Ulum al-Qur’an, vol.1; ‘Kitab Fahm al-Sunnah’ by al-Harith al-Muhasabi)
3. ‘The Holy Qur’an’ – with original ‘Arabic Text, English translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Islamic Book Service, India. 2000. (ISBN 81 65738-04-1). And also ‘The Meanings of the Glorious Qur’an’ by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, trans., Mecca and New York: Muslim World League. 1977. (ISBN 81-7476-005-9)
1. Page of Qur’an – (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/vatican/images/orient11.jpg)
2. Uthman Koran – http://upload.wikimedia.org/Wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Uthman_Koran-RZ.jpg)