The Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, is a cornerstone of the faith, a source of spiritual guidance, and a beacon of wisdom for billions. For those within the fold of Islam and curious onlookers alike, the question of its authorship is a profound one. To Muslims around the world, the Qur’an is the literal words of Allah, presented to humanity through the final prophet, Muhammad ﷺ.
This article seeks to reach out to those who carry within them a curiosity about one of the world’s oldest and most revered books—the Qur’an. It is crafted not only for Muslims, who may wish to deepen their understanding or find the words to share the essence of their faith, but also for non-Muslims who seek a genuine comprehension of a religion that guides billions.
In an age brimming with information, yet also marked by misconceptions, this exploration aims to illuminate the Qur’an’s origins with clarity and respect.
Through this, we hope to foster a dialogue rooted in knowledge and empathy, paving the way for a greater appreciation of the cultural and spiritual landscapes that shape our collective human experience.
The Direct Revelation to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
In the serene desolation of a cave in the Middle East, during the month of Ramadan, a man known as Muhammad ibn Abdullah, later to become Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, received the first revelation. According to Islamic tradition, the Archangel Gabriel visited him, announcing in clear, classical Arabic, “Iqra” – ‘Read’ or ‘Recite.’
These words became the first words of Surah al-Qalam.
Muhammad ﷺ, whom tradition holds as an illiterate person, found himself reciting words that were not his own, words that were divine and heavy with meaning.
These words, charged with the blessings of Allah, began to shape a text that would challenge the entire society’s norms of the time of Arabia.
The Arabic word “Qur’an” itself means ‘the recitation,’ signifying the oral transmission of the text which was common in the culture of the early Muslims.
The Prophet Muhammad’s role as the receiver of these revelations is central to the Islamic understanding of the authorship of the Quran.
During the time of the Prophet, these divine messages united the people of the West Arabian towns like Mecca and Medina under a common faith. The recitation of the Quran resonated through the desert air, calling people to remember the name of God and follow His guidance.
Regarding the authenticity of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:
The Qur’an addresses directly the accusations leveled against the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ at his time. It is not “written” by him; rather, he served as a messenger for the revelations bestowed upon him. The skeptics of the time called him a poet or a sorcerer, but the Qur’an refutes such claims. For instance, in Surah Al-Haqqah (69:40-43), it is clearly stated:
إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلُ رَسُولٍ كَرِيمٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِقَوْلِ شَاعِرٍ ۚ قَلِيلًا مَّا تُؤْمِنُونَ وَلَا بِقَوْلِ كَاهِنٍ ۚ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ ۚ تَنزِيلٌ مِّن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“Indeed, it is the word of a noble Messenger. And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe.
Nor the word of a soothsayer; little do you remember.
[It is] a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.”Quran Surah Al-Haqqah (69:40-43)
These verses stand as a firm declaration of the Qur’an’s divine origin, emphasizing that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was neither inventing verses in the manner of poets nor foretelling events as soothsayers do, but was simply delivering the revelation from the Almighty Lord of all the worlds.
The Noble Qur’an: A Work Beyond Human Beings
Muslim scholars assert with unwavering conviction that no human being, nor any non-Arabic speaking entity, could have authored the Qur’an.
Its content, which includes mentions of ocean currents, the development of the human embryo, and other scientific facts, was far beyond the knowledge available at the time.
Its poetic value surpasses even the best poetry of the Arabic literature, which was held in high regard in the pre-Islamic pagan Arab culture.
The Qur’an, revealed over 23 years, transformed new Muslims, shaping their lives through its verses. In its final form, the Qur’an stands as a brilliant piece of literature and a holy script, the word of God Almighty, untouched by any possible sources or influences from conventional human authorship.
Within the Quran, there are longer verses known as Ayat which tackle complex concepts and invite different people from all walks of life to ponder the wonders of creation, including the mention of ocean currents. These insights affirm the belief that the author of the Holy Quran is a non-Arab entity, for such knowledge was not known to the people of that time.
The Compilation of the Qur’an
After the death of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his companions, who had memorized the entire Qur’an, took on the monumental task of preserving it.
Led initially by Caliph Abu Bakr and later solidified by Caliph Uthman, the text of the Qur’an was compiled into book form. Zayd ibn Thabit, a notable companion and a scribe of the Prophet ﷺ, was entrusted with this critical mission. He took special arrangements to gather the written pieces – on palm leaves, animal skins, and even flat stones – to ensure the accuracy of this holy text.
The Caliph Uthman, concerned about the unity of the Muslim communities and the authenticity of the recitation of the Qur’an, ordered the preparation of multiple copies of the Quran.
These copies were sent out to different regions of the Islamic empire to ensure a standardized recitation.
After Muhammad’s death, it was crucial for the companions of the Prophet, under the leadership of figures like Umar ibn al-Khattab and later Uthman bin Affan, to preserve the text of the Quran.
This period, especially the time of the third Caliph, Uthman, marked the transformation of the recitation of the Holy Quran into its book form, the Noble Quran, which we have today.
Asking “Who is the author of the Qur’an?” may lead to a misunderstanding of its divine origin. In Islam, the Qur’an is not viewed as written by a human author but as the pure Word of Allah, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, a conduit chosen by God to receive and then convey this divine wisdom.
After its revelation, the responsibility fell to the Prophet’s companions, who meticulously preserved and recorded the recitations. The process of compiling the Qur’an was not akin to an author writing a book but rather the careful and reverent preservation of direct revelation, intended to maintain the message in its purest form for all time.
The Holy Book of Islam: A Revelation for All
The final product, the Qur’an, is not just available to read in Arabic. Although the Arabic Quran is the actual word of Allah, Its messages, stories, and laws have been translated into different languages, allowing non-Arab and non arabic speaking Muslims and entire societies across the globe to connect with the divine revelations.
Despite translations, the Qur’an’s recitation is always in its original Arabic script, preserving the poetic Arabic and the profound depth of its classical Arabic roots.
The conventional Islamic belief maintains that the author of the Qur’an is none but Allah.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the seal of the prophets and the finest of creation, served as the medium through whom these divine revelations were conveyed to mankind.
The Qur’an’s narrative is unique in its approach. Unlike the Hebrew Bible or other religious books, it often addresses the reader directly, with phrases like “O Muhammad” or “They ask you about…” This style invites engagement, making the reader feel part of a timeless conversation.
The recitation of the Quran, therefore, is not merely an act of reading text but is an experience that connects the believer with the history of the Arabic language and the very words that were pronounced by the Prophet Mohammed himself.
This continuity ensures that each copy of the Quran is more than a book; it’s a living conduit to the divine.
Embracing the Qur’an in the Modern World
For Muslims seeking to understand more or explain their faith to others, it’s crucial to stress that the Qur’an is seen as a direct revelation from God, a guidance untainted by the whims of man.
For non-Muslims, understanding this perspective is key to appreciating the Qur’an’s role in Islamic life.
In the context of history, both Islamic and western scholars recognize the Qur’an as a book that has shaped civilizations, influencing the history of the world, from the time of the Holy Prophet to the modern era. Its ethical framework, legal precepts, and spiritual depth have made it more than just a book; it is a living guide that continues to offer “good things,” inspiration, and solace to those who seek it.
Common questions arise about the Quran’s relation to earlier biblical sources, and while there are shared narratives, such as the story of the mother of Jesus, the Quran’s traditional account stands distinct in its details and moral lessons.
It is considered by Muslims as the final and most complete revelation, building upon and completing the messages of previous scriptures
In essence, the Qur’an stands as the final prophet’s lasting legacy, a testament to the divine that transcends time, language and culture.
It remains, in the hearts of Muslims, the final testament of their faith, a recitation that encompasses the entire spectrum of human experience, from the mundane to the celestial.
The Qur’an’s influence is not confined to the religious sphere; it is also a foundation stone of Arabic literature and the history of the Arabic language. Its verses have affected not only spiritual matters but also the very structure of societies within the entire Arabian Peninsula and beyond.
The beauty of the Qur’an is that while it is a deeply historical text, it speaks to the present. Its guidance is seen as relevant today as it was at the time of the Holy Prophet. It calls upon individuals to reflect on their deeds, encourages the pursuit of knowledge, and offers a framework for society built on justice, compassion, and the pursuit of good deeds.
Understanding the Qur’an in Everyday Life
For Muslims explaining their faith, the Qur’an is not a book that was authored but a revelation that was bestowed. It’s a guide that has been memorized, recited, and cherished by generations. In the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, we find comfort, guidance, and a reminder of the blessings of Allah.
The Qur’an also stands as an open invitation for non-Muslims to discover the heart of Islam. Its verses carry the potential for intercultural and interfaith understanding, shedding light on the commonalities we share as human beings.
Modern scholars, both within and outside the Islamic world, continue to explore the Qur’an’s text, its context, and its implications for various fields of knowledge. This ongoing conversation ensures that the Qur’an remains a vibrant and dynamic force in shaping human understanding.
For those looking to delve deeper, resources such as translations, commentaries by Muslim scholars, and historical accounts offer pathways to a richer grasp of the Qur’an’s message. The month of Ramadan, when the first revelation was made, remains a special time for Muslims to reconnect with the Qur’an, often completing the recitation of the entire Qur’an during this holy month.
Across different cultures and languages, the Quran has been embraced and honored as the best literature that humanity has ever known.
Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet Mohammed, and many others in the history of the Islamic world have witnessed the transformative power of its verses. The entire Quran, when taken as a whole, is seen as a guide that shapes not just personal lives but also societal norms and the broader cultural tapestry.
In conclusion, according to Islamic tradition, the Qur’an is the unaltered word of God, delivered through the Archangel Gabriel to the final prophet, Muhammad ﷺ.
Its origins lie in divine revelation, not human authorship. Its compilation was a meticulous process, preserving its integrity for future generations.
For Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the Qur’an offers insights into the beliefs and practices of one of the world’s major religions, serving as a bridge to deeper understanding and mutual respect.
It’s a testament to the enduring legacy of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the timeless message of Islam, calling humanity towards the pursuit of knowledge, compassion, and righteousness.