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                        "THE RELIGION OF ISLAM"

                               The Qur'an


1. In our previous study, we briefly surveyed the origins of the
   religion of Islam...
   a. Muslims believe it is the original religion, going all the way
      back to Adam
   b. They believe Muhammad is the last of a long line of prophets,
      including Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus
   c. Due to the efforts of Muhammad and his successors, Islam quickly
      spread from Arabia

2. In 610 A.D., Muhammad claimed to receive his first revelation from
   the angel Gabriel...
   a. In a cave on the summit of Mt. Hira, where he often went to pray
      and fast
   b. He was commissioned to be the Messenger of God, to reveal the word
      of Allah
   c. A process involving a series of revelations lasting the rest of
      his life (23 yrs)
   d. Illiterate, he recited while others wrote the words

[The "revelations" of Muhammad are written and preserved in what is
called the Qur'an (or Koran), the holy book of Islam...]


      1. "The Qur'an (literally, recitation) contains 114 chapters
         revealed to the Prophet during a period of 23 years from 609 to
         632, the year of his death." - Introduction To Islam, M. Cherif
      2. "The divine revelations were manifested in divine inspiration,
         which the Prophet sometimes uttered in the presence of his
         companions." - ibid.

      1. "His words were passed on in the oral tradition of his Arabic
         culture." - ibid.
      2. "They (his adherents) memorized and documented the divine
         messages delivered to Muhammad on makeshift material, such as
         palm leaves, fragments of pottery and, according to traditional
         accounts, on the shoulder-blades of camels." - Solomon
         Nigosian, Islam: The Way Of Submission
      3. "Some forty years after his death they were transcribed in the
         written form that has been preserved to date without change."
         - Bassiouni, ibid.

[To appreciate what the Qur'an means to the average Muslim...]


      1. "The central article of Islamic faith, from which all else
         flows, is that God (Allah in Arabic) has spoken to mankind in
         the Qur'an."
      2. "The Qur'an (meaning Recitation) is, for Muslims, the final
         word of God and as such contains His divine message to mankind
         as revealed to His Prophet Muhammed."
      3. "This divine communication is seen as the final stage in a long
         series of divine messages conducted through specific messengers
         or prophets chosen by God, starting with Adam and ending with
      4. "In each case, however, the message was altered and falsified
         by the perversity of later generations."
      5. "Finally, God revealed His message in a definitive form to the
         Prophet Muhammad through the archangel Gabriel."
      6. The Qur'an, then, is the infallible message or word of God."
         - Nigosian, ibid.

      1. "'You will never understand this power and warmth of religion
         among us [Muslims] until you can feel in your heart the poetry
         and music of the noble Qur'an.'"
      2. "Indeed, the chanting of the Qur'an is the primary music of
         Islam. It is the soul of Islam and is reflected in the speech
         of all faithful Muslims."
      3. "Muslim piety and even scholarship demand memorization and
         recitation of the Qur'an."
      4. "Indeed, the divine injunction is 'Recite the Qur'an' (Qur'an
         73:20f).  Hence, the pledge of true discipleship lies in
         recruiting the memory and the voice."
      5. "Recitation of the Qur'an in Islam is equivalent to a statement
         of 'faith' in Christianity.  Hence, the primary sign of a true
         Muslim is recitation of the Qur'an."
      6. "Tradition ascribes the following sayings to the Prophet
         Muhammad, thus serving as a reinforcement to the habit of
         a. 'If any man recites the Qur'an and memorizes it, God will
            cause him to enter Paradise and will grant him the right to
            intercede successfully for ten people of his household, all
            of whom deserve Hell Fire.'
         b. 'The best man among you is he who learns the Qur'an and
            teaches it.'
         c. 'Learn the Qur'an, recite it and sleep.'
         d. 'The most excellent act of worship is the reciting of the
            Qur'an.'" - ibid.

[Without going into great detail, some remarks about...]


      1. "It is...divided into 114 chapters (called suras), arranged in
         order of length from the longest to the shortest, except for a
         short opening prayer in Chapter 1."
      2. "The head of every chapter in the Qur'an (except the ninth,
         which is considered a continuation of the eighth) is prefixed
         by the following auspicatory statement:  'In the name of the
         most merciful God." - ibid.

      1. "...Muslims insist that the Qur'an was revealed in Arabic
         (Qur'an 43:1); this divine origin is, according to pious
         Muslims, inimitable."
      2. "...Muslims have deprecated, if not prohibited, any attempts to
         render the Qur'an in any other language than Arabic, since to
         translate it is tantamount to profaning the sacred language God
         chose as His instrument of communication."
      3. "Muslims and even non-Muslim scholars of Islam universally
         acclaim the Qur'an as representative of the purest and most
         elegant forms of the Arabic language."
      4. "Among adherents, the unexcelled literary style of Qur'anic
         Arabic is one of the proofs of its divine origin (Qur'an 12:2)"
         - ibid.

      1. The first sura (chapter) is a short prayer of 7 verses
         a. Called "Al Fatihah" (The Opening)
         b. Described by Muslims as "the Essence of the (Qur'an)"
      2. The second and longest sura contains 286 verses
         a. Called "Al Baqarah" (The Heifer)
         b. It summarizes much of the whole teaching of the Qur'an
         c. Among its contents:
            1) The story of the creation of man - 2:30-39
            2) The story of Israel - 2:40-86
            3) The story of Moses and Jesus, how revelations given to
               them were corrupted by those who followed them - 2:87-121
            4) The story of Abraham, how he and Ishmael built the Kabah
               (the house of Allah) in the city of Mecca - 2:122-141
            5) How the Kabah was now to be the center of universal
               worship and symbol of Islamic unity - 2:142-167
            6) Ordinances to guide the Islamic ummah (community)
               - 2:168-242
               a) With admonitions to faith, kindness, prayer, charity,
                  probity, patience
               b) Pertaining to food and drink, bequests, fasts, jihad,
                  wine and gambling, treatment of orphans and women, etc.
            7) The concept of jihad explained in the story of Saul,
               Goliath, and David, in contrast to the story of Jesus
               - 2:243-253
            8) A reinforcement that true virtue lies in practical deeds
               of manliness, kindness, and good faith - 2:254-283
            9) A concluding exhortation  to faith, obedience a sense of
               personal responsibility and prayer - 2:284-286
            -- From The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary by
               Abdullah Yusuf Ali, p. 16
      3. The remaining suras expound upon similar themes
         a) Often in response to events (such as war and peace) as they
            occurred in the course of the life of Muhammad and the
            Muslim ummah - e.g., Suras 3-5,8-9
         b) Often retelling histories of Biblical characters, supposedly
            correcting corruptions of such stories as held by Jews and
            Christians - e.g., Suras 7,10-15,19-22


1. It is difficult for non-Muslims to comprehend how the Qur'an is
   venerated by Muslims...
   a. In some countries, children under ten are required to memorize the
      whole book
   b. It has been said that the Qur'an as the Word of God is to Muslims
      what Jesus as the Word of God is to Christians

2. In this brief introduction and survey of the Qur'an...
   a. My purpose has not been to debunk, point out weaknesses,
      contradictions, etc.
   b. My purpose has been to try to present it as viewed by Muslims
   -- In keeping with the principle:  Seek first to understand, then to
      be understood

The better one understands the origin and content of the Qur'an, the
more effective they will be to share the gospel to Muslims.  The same is
true with understanding some of the beliefs and practices of the Islamic
faith, which we shall survey in our next study...
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