The Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) between the years 610-632 CE. The first revelation took place in the month of Ramadan 610CE. in the cave of Hira on a mountain called al-Nur.
That this is indeed a Qur’an Most Honourable,
In Book well-guarded,
Which none shall touch but those who are clean:
A Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. (Surah 56 77-80)
The word Qur’an means ‘reading’ or ‘recitation’ in Arabic. The original Qur’an, ‘the mother of the book’, is in heaven. The Qur’an is the words of Allah. The words of the Qur’an were read or recited to Muhammad (pbuh) by the archangel Jibril at the command of Allah. Jibril’s first words to Muhammad (pbuh) were, ‘Proclaim (or read) in the name of Allah …’
The first revelation came on Laylat-ul-Qadr, the night of Power, one of the last ten days of Ramadan in the year 610 CE. It is said to have been twenty two years, five months and four days after the first revelation that the last verse was given:
This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (Surah 5:3)
In Surah 97 it says that the Qur’an came to earth in its entirety on Laylat-ul-Qadr.
Theologians explain that it came to a spiritual sphere above the earth called the Bait al-Izza, the House of Glory, where eternity meets the world of time.
The Qur’an is divided into surahs which are made up of verses, ayat. One verse or unit is an ayah ‘a sign’.
The114 surahs are arranged according to length with the longest chapters at the beginning and much shorter surahs at the end. The main exception is the first surah Al-Fatihah, the Opening, which is short but very significant for iman – ‘faith’.
Every surah apart from Surah 9 begins with the words, ‘Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim’, ‘In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.’
The Qur’an is divided into thirty parts or ‘juz’. The whole book is a unity and is called al-kitab, the book or the scripture. Muhammad (pbuh) memorised the Qur’an as he heard it and then repeated it to his followers who learnt it and wrote it down. The Qur’an was not compiled as one book until after the death of the Prophet, since when it has remained unchanged.
Two years after Muhammad’s (pbuh) death, the first Khalifah, Abu Bakr, had all the pieces of the Qur’an collected into one book. Just before he died, Muhammad (pbuh) had sorted the revelations into surahs according to themes or because they had been received at the same time.
In 652 CE the third Khalifah, Uthman, had four copies of the Qur’an made based on the official version and sent one to each of four Islamic cities: Basra, Damascus, Kufh and al-Madinah.