The Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in the 7th century (610 AD) via the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) to explain matters of the unseen (ghayb). It explains the fundamental narrative about what preceded the world, the purpose of this world and our lives, and what will happen after death.
The Qur'an comprises 114 chapters covering metaphysical matters, morals/ethics, legislation, historical events, cultural references, detailed religious creeds of Jews and Christians, and a number of other issues.
It tells us the stories of the past nations and their Prophets; such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lut, Moses, Jesus, John the Baptist, and others. It also contains prophecies for future matters.
Religious, Moral and Legal Teachings
The Qur'an focuses on religious, moral and theological discussions and teachings. It begins with outlining its creed regarding Allah, the eternal being, who is the cause of everything, along with elaborating his names and attributes so that mankind may come to know and understand him:
وَإِلَـهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ لاَّ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ
"And your God is one God. There is no deity (worthy of worship) except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful." (2:163)
It goes on to explain how Allah created the universe and offered a trust to humanity who accepted it. This trust was that of serving God through choice. Man was subsequently placed on earth as a test to determine if he would indeed serve God through choice.
Following this he would be held to account on the day of judgment following which there would be eternal bliss or torment.
The Qur'an legislates rulings and a code of conduct they are to follow to please God and achieve eternal bliss:
قُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُواْ بِهِ شَيْئاً وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ أَوْلاَدَكُم مِّنْ إمْلاَقٍ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ"Say, "Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. (He commands) that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason." (Qur'an 6:151)
It later warned them against disobedience to Allah's rulings:
تلْكَ حُدُودُ اللّهِ فَلاَ تَعْتَدُوهَا وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللّهِ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
"These are the limits of Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah - it is those who are the wrongdoers." (Qur'an 2:229)
The Qur'an orders Muslim to keep a good relationship with everyone around them:
وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنْبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَنْ كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا
"Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbour, the neighbour farther away, the companion at your side, the traveller, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful." (Qur'an 4:36)
The Qur'an also teaches them moral conducts such as the kind relationship even towards those one differs with:
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
"And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel (evil) by that [deed] which is better and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend." (Qur'an 41:34)
The Qur'an teaches they were all created equal:
يا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ
"O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you." (Qur'an 49:13)
And the Prophet (saw) clarified its meaning saying:
"O people, your Lord is one and your father (Adam) is one. There is no favour of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness." (Ahmed 22978)
It teaches them the concept of brotherhood:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيراً مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضاً أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتاً فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ
"O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful." (Qur'an 49:12)
It teaches them to practice justice even with those who oppressed them:
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ لِلّهِ شُهَدَاء بِالْقِسْطِ وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى
"O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness." (Qur'an 5:8)
The Qur'an also prophesises future events some of which have come true and others will occur. For instance, Allah promises of the fact of the preservation of the Quran from any changes:
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
"Surely WE have revealed the Reminder (Quran) and WE will most surely be its Guardian." (Qur'an 15:9)
The Qur'an has never been updated or changed since the death of Prophet Muhammad (saw). Everything it contains have been preserved for over 14 centuries.
Allah promised His Prophet in the days of weakness with protection against murder:
يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ
"O, Apostle! Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord … and Allah will protect you from people." (Qur'an 5:67)
This verse was revealed in the battlefield, a dangerous place where life can easily be lost. When the verse was revealed the Prophet (saw) told his guardians:
The Qur'an had promised its followers from the outset and during their time of weakness, of dominating the world along with the well-established empires of Rome and Persia. Muslims fulfilled such prophecy some years later after the death of the Prophet (saw).
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْناً
"Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession (to authority) upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security…'" (Qur'an 24:55)
The promise that was repeated by the Prophet (saw) and he commented on the dispute that later happened among Muslims (fitnah):
إِنَّ اللَّهَ زَوَى لِيَ الْأَرْضَ فَرَأَيْتُ مَشَارِقَهَا وَمَغَارِبَهَا، وَإِنَّ أُمَّتِي سَيَبْلُغُ مُلْكُهَا مَا زُوِيَ لِي مِنْهَا
"Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends. And the dominion of my Umah would reach those ends" (Sahih Muslim 6904)
He also added:
إِذَا فُتِحَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ فَارِسُ وَالرُّومُ أَىُّ قَوْمٍ أَنْتُمْ "... قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم " أَوْ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ تَتَنَافَسُونَ ثُمَّ تَتَحَاسَدُونَ ثُمَّ تَتَدَابَرُونَ ثُمَّ تَتَبَاغَضُونَ أَوْ نَحْوَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ تَنْطَلِقُونَ فِي مَسَاكِينِ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ فَتَجْعَلُونَ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى رِقَابِ بَعْضٍ
"How would you be, O people, when Persia and Rome would be conquered for you? … You would (in fact) vie with one another, then you would feel jealous, then your relations would be estranged and then you will bear enmity against one another or something to the same effect. Then you would go to the poor emigrants and would make some the masters of the others." (Sahih Muslim 2962)
Whilst the Qur'an was revealed in the time where Arabs dedicated their lives and money to people on the days of poetry and eloquent writings, Allah challenged humans and jinn, Arabs and non-Arabs, to bring even a chapter similar in its structure to any chapter of the Qur'an:
قُل لَّئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الإِنسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَى أَن يَأْتُواْ بِمِثْلِ هَـذَا الْقُرْآنِ لاَ يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيراً
"Say: If the Human beings as well as the jinn joined together in order to bring forth the like of the Quran, they will never bring its like, even if they were aiders to each other." (Qur'an 17:88)
To date, no one has overcome this challenge.
Religious, Cultural and Historical References
The Qur'an contains stories of past nations and their Prophets; such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lut, Moses, Jesus, John the Baptist, and others. Allah says:
تِلْكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهَا إِلَيْكَ ۖ مَا كُنتَ تَعْلَمُهَا أَنتَ وَلَا قَوْمُكَ مِن قَبْلِ هَٰذَا ۖ فَاصْبِرْ ۖ إِنَّ الْعَاقِبَةَ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
"That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people, before this. So be patient; indeed, the [best] outcome is for the righteous." (Qur'an 11:49)
The Qur'an does not only narrate but also corrects many historical admissions. For example, many central stories in the Bible, such as the story of Ishmael and Isaac, David and Solomon, Jesus and Merry and others, have been claimed as wrong in the Qur'an and it provides a clearer version was later proven as true.
The Qur'an condemned their understanding regarding the attributes of Allah:
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ يَدُ اللَّهِ مَغْلُولَةٌ ۚ غُلَّتْأَيْدِيهِمْ وَلُعِنُوا بِمَا قَالُوا ۘ بَلْ يَدَاهُ مَبْسُوطَتَانِ يُنفِقُ كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ
"And the Jews say, "The hand of Allah is chained." Chained are their hands, and cursed are they for what they say. Rather, both His hands are extended; He spends however He wills." (Qur'an 5:64)
The verse means God is not generous in terms of given money as well as keeping their civilization. (Tabari, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Ashur) This concept is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the context of the enslavement of the Israelites when God has stopped His generous help to them:
"Behold, O LORD; for I am in distress … The LORD hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob … he hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy." (Lamentations 1:20\2:1-3)
The Qur'an corrected their belief in Allah (swt) and the status of His Prophets (as) saying:
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَاتَغْلُوافِيدِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
"O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three"; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs." (Qur'an 4:171)
It corrects their understanding regarding Prophet (as) such as Solomon (as) who was accused of apostasy at the end of his life:
"For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. … 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods." (1King 11:4:8)
The Qur'an condemned this accusation saying:
وَمَاكَفَرَسُلَيْمَانُ وَلَٰكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا
"It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved." (Qur'an 2:102)
The Qur'an corrected the Bible in many other references and especially concerning the attributes of Allah, the Prophets (as), and the corruption they did towards their scripture.
The content of the Qur'an helps clarify those areas humans are unable to address by themselves - the metaphysical realm of what precedes the universe, what will follow, and what the purpose of our existence is. It clarifies how best to fulfil this purpose by providing a sharia for mankind and examples of previous prophets who fulfilled the purpose for which they were created. To serve their Lord.
I would describe the content of the Qur'an as answering the following questions:
Who is GOD ?
What did HE do ?
What is HE doing ?
What is HE going to do ?
What is the Purpose of Life ?
and this Life is temporary and the Life in the hereafter is Permanent.
Life is but a Test
"We Live to Choose and Die to Taste its Consequences"
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