What World Religions Teach

By E. G. Parrinder | Go to book overview

Chapter 15
ISLAM: (2) WORD AND FAITH

THE QURAN

The Quran (formerly called Koran or Alcoran in English) is regarded by the Muslim as eternal, the uncreated Word of God. An early writer said, "the Quran is the speech of God, written in the copies, preserved in the memories, recited by the tongues, revealed to the Prophet." It is believed that the Quran was kept in the seventh heaven, in the presence of God, and sent down to Muhammad by the intermediary of the Archangel Gabriel. So holy is this book thought to be that no criticism of it is allowed; in fact, it is said that the Quran holds the place in Islam that Christ (not the Bible) holds in Christianity, as the living Word of God.

Nevertheless in the Quran itself the book is often said to be in the succession of the Jewish Law (Torah) and the Gospel (Injil). Indeed, it is thought to proclaim the same message, since the word of God is the same. Modern Muslims often say that the differences between these three scriptures are due to corruptions of the Torah and the Gospel, but the Quran itself never says so, and it holds them in great honour. It seems that Muhammad thought of the Quran as the scripture for the Arabs, the first religious book in their own language, as the Jews and Christians had their holy books in their languages. So Jews and Christians should be honoured as 'people of the Book.'

The Quran is a very difficult book to read in the usual arrangement. In Arabic it is in a kind of rhymed prose and so is easily learnt, and all Muslim learn many verses off by heart, in Arabic, whether that is their own language or not. The rhyme and most of its sonorous phrases are inevitably lost in translation. Then the arrangement adds to the difficulty. Traditionally the longest

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