The Qur’an is the word of God as it was given to Muhammad. Critically assess this statement.
The Qur’an is considered the word of God by Muslims. The Islamic faith believes that the stories within the book were sent to the lowest of the seventh heavens by Allah, during the time of Ramadan, and revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of time in instalments. A question that is often asked regarding the Qur’an is if its contents are recorded as they were once delivered to Muhammad or does it now differ to the original revelations. The problems that have been considered in relation to this are as follows, parts of the book may have been lost during the course of revelations being told to Muhammad and getting written down, the amount of verses in some places have reduced and during the time of writing the Qur’an certain language difficulties may of resulted in different meanings being recorded for certain words. “The term ‘Qur’an’ has the meanings of ‘the recitation’ or ‘that which is to be recited’ and ‘of that which is recited’” (Akbar, 2002, p. 27), thus how the text was originally delivered, through memory and recitation, which again creates questions surrounding the material contained in the text and its reliability. What this essay hopes to do is analyse the queries and ideas concerning whether the Qur’an is documented as it was delivered to Muhammad, or if it differs and varies in any way, and if so the impact that may have on the text. The contents of the Qur’an are believed to be a record of the revelations as they were exactly given to Muhammad, as messages from Allah. It is a certainty that Muslims agree with this idea “The text of the Qur'an is entirely reliable. It has been as it is, unaltered, unedited, not tampered with in any way, since the time of its revelation” (Gulen, 1993, p. 58), but the notion that it has not been edited or altered at all has often been criticised by scholars for a number of reasons. One reason for this is that the revelations were not originally documented very well. Some of the stories were written down but most were remembered by Muhammad and his followers, and although it is considered that all of the information was memorised precisely there is a strong possibility that it was not. Another problem with this belief is that people have supposedly re-told each of the revelations as they were exactly told to them, without exaggerating or altering anything, which again is highly unlikely. There are contrasting opinions regarding when the Qur’an was written, with some Muslims believing Muhammad complied the text himself and others thinking it was written after his death. These conflicting views are due to a number of scholars claiming Muhammad was illiterate, and so would not be able to document what he was told, but it is apparent that many Muslims believe this is untrue, and claim that scholars in fact “fabricated the illiteracy lie” (Khalifa, 2008, p 668). The Qur’an was most likely written following Muhammad’s death, as it was believed that no more revelations were to be made. At this point two companions of Muhammad’s, Abu Bakr and Umar, gathered together the few stories that had been written down and what they had memorised themselves, and devised a text containing all of them. “Abu Bakr and Umar called themselves khalifa, Arabic for successor. In English the word is caliph” (Weston, 2008, p. 39). It was these men, along with two more, Uthman and Ali, that made up ‘The Rightly Guided Caliphs’, they were the earliest followers of Muhammad and they took it upon themselves to create a text that demonstrated what the Prophet had been told. A little previous to the time of writing the Qur’an there is said to have been a battle, where a number of memorisers of the revelations were killed. This, along with Muhammad’s death, made writing the text extremely important, for there were less people that knew the stories and it would have been foolish to risk losing anymore before a...
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