What every Christian should know about the Quran
December 15th, 2011
What should every Christian know about the Quran?
1. Every Christian should know that Muslims believe the Quran is the Word of God and was revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel.
3. Every Christian should know that Muhammad did not leave a complete written text (mushaf) of his recitation. This was compiled and completed after Muhammad’s death. This means the written form of Muhammad’s recitation is not the work of Muhammad.3
5. Every Christian should know that Muslims believe the Quran is a miracle. The great miracle of the Quran is that it is inimitable (I’jaz al-Quran in Arabic), “If men and jinn banded together to produce the like of this Quran they would never produce its like, not though they backed one another” (Quran 17:886).7 Muslims also believe that today’s Quran perfectly preserves what Muhammad recited (see Quran Manuscripts, Copyist Errors, and Textual Criticism).
6. Every Christian should know that the main doctrine emphasized in the Quran is unitarian monotheism (tawhid)8). This is most clearly evidenced in the Muhsin Khan Interpretation of the Meanings of the Qur’an where “monotheism” is mentioned more than 260x (For a list of every passage see, “Monotheism in the Quran“).9)
7. Every Christian should know that the Quran is a book about memory and remembrance (see Quran 74:54; 81:27).10
8. Almost one hundred verses/ayat in the Quran are about Jesus (see “Jesus in the Quran“).
10. Every Christian should know that the Quran teaches that the shedding of blood is unnecessary for the forgiveness of sin. The Quran teaches that Allah forgives whom he pleases:
To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in your ownselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things. (Quran 2:284, Muhsin Khan)
11. Every Christian should know that the Quran is not the only source of revelation in Islam (Sunnah and Hadith).
Timothy Tennent’s lecture on the Quran
- The Quran says, “Surely We have made it an Arabic Quran that you may understand” (Quran 43:3; see also Quran 12:2; 13:37;20:113; 39:28; 41:2-3; 42:7). [↩]
- The general arrangement of the Quran is not chronological but from longest chapters to shortest for a total of 114 chapters (suras). It is believed that Muhammad’s first recitation began with “recite” (Arabic, Qara), “Recite in the name of your Lord who created” (96:1). [↩]
- See “One Single Version of the Qur’an?” in Is the Quran the Word of God? [↩]
- “Herein lies the deeply rooted conviction among Muslims that a “valid” recitation of the Quran is possible only in the Arabic language. Only the Ḥanafite law school allows for exceptions in this regard, as set forth in detail in 1932 by the Hanafi Azhar scholar al-Maraghi (d. 1945)” (Hartmut Bobzin, “Translations of the Qur’an.” Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe . Brill (Leiden and Boston), 2005. CD-ROM version). [↩]
- According to some scholars who are experts in classical Arabic, a fifth of the Arabic text of the Quran is incomprehensible (see Gerd R. Puin). For further study see Stefan Wild, “Why Translate the Untranslatable?“ [↩]
- Quran 17:88 is the scriptural cornerstone of the conviction that the Quran could not be surpassed, not even by the most eloquent. The whole Quran became a miracle. It was not only true in its narratives, it was not only wise and binding in its prescriptions and prohibitions, it was not only true in its prediction of the future, it was also the purest and the most elogent Arabic speech possible, and surpassed all humanly achievable excellence. You can listen to the recitation of the Quran in Arabic at quran.com [↩]
- Different people have given different assessments of the Quran:
Positive assessments of the Quran, style of the Quran, grammar of the Quran
Marmaduke Pickthall, a British convert to Islam and translator of the Qurʾan, described the Qur’an as an “inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy.”
George Sale, a non-Muslim English translator of the Quran thought that: “The style of the Koran is generally beautiful and fluent, especially where it imitates the prophetic manner and scripture phrases. It is concise and often obscure, adorned with bold figures after the eastern taste, enlivened with florid and sententious expressions, and in many places, especially when the majesty and attributes of God are described, sublime and magnificent.”
The Austrian J. von Hammer-Purgstall stated, “The Koran is not only the law book of Islam, but also a masterpiece of Arabic poetic art. Only the high magic of the language could give to the speech of Abdallah’s son the stamp of the speech of God”.
F.J. Steingass said the Quran is “[…] A work, then, which calls forth so powerful and seemingly incompatible emotions even in the distant reader — distant as to time, and still more so as to mental development — a work which not only conquers the repugnance with which he may begin its perusal, but changes this adverse feeling into astonishment and admiration.”
Negative assessments of the Quran, Quranic style, and grammar of the Quran
Richard Bell remarked that, for a long time, occidental scholars called attention to “the grammatical unevennesses and interruption of sense which occur in the Quran.”
The Quranic scholar and Semitist Theodor Nöldeke qualified the quranic language as: “drawling, dull and prosaic.” Elsewhere Nöldeke said the Quran, “aesthetically considered, is by no means a first-rate performance.”
Jakob Barth was struck by “the disruptions of the relations” in the surahs.
The Iraqi English Semitist A. Mingana thought that the style of the Quran “suffers from the disabilities that always characterize a first attempt in a new literary language which is under the influence of an older and more fixed literature.”
R.A. Nicholson, a specialist in Arabic literature and Sufism observed, “The preposterous arrangment of the Koran […] is mainly responsible for the opinion held by European readers that it is obscure, tiresome, uninteresting; a farrago of long-winded narratives and prosaic exhortations,quite unworthy to be named in the same breath with the Prophetical Books of the Old Testament.” (Claude Gilliot, Pierre Larcher, “Language and Style of the Qur’an” Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an).
Gordon Nickel, Ph.D. in Islamic Studies says, “Scholars often remain tentative about the meaning of any one passage in the Qur’ān because the Qur’ān does not generally supply the setting for the recitation. The style of the Qur’ānic discourse is allusive and elliptical. The Qur’ānic text frequently lacks words or units of information which might otherwise be considered essential to a clear expression of meaning. Muslim scripture gives the impression of being addressed to an audience which could supply missing details to which the text only refers. Even narrative in the Qur’ān is “often unintelligible without exegetical complement.” In the case of polemical passages, the reader usually encounters ambiguity about many parts of a sentence, including the identities of the subject and object, and the nature of the dispute” (Gordon Nickel, Common Word Polemics, 3). [↩]
- “Except for the theme of monotheism, the Qur’an speaks more of the coming Qiyamah – also known as the Resurrection, the Day of Judgment, Day of Gathering, and the Great Announcement – than of any other topic. “Confessing the Shahadah – “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God” – and believing in the accountability of all humans before God are the cement which holds Islam together” (Al-Qiyamah, The Resurrection [↩]
- The Muhsin Khan Interpretation of the Meanings of the Qur’an version is often distributed to Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. [↩]
- Angelika Neuwirth, “Qur’an, Crisis and Memory” in Neuwirth, A./Pflitsch, A. (eds): Crisis and Memory, [Beiruter Texte und Studien, 2001], 115 [↩]
- Muslim commentators generally agree that Quran 3:54-55 refers to the Jewish plot to kill Jesus by crucifixion, but God’s rescuing Jesus from death on the cross,
And they (disbelievers) plotted [to kill ‘Iesa (Jesus) ], and Allah planned too. And Allah is the Best of the planners. And (remember) when Allah said: “O ‘Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that ‘Iesa (Jesus) is Allah’s son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (Monotheists, who worship none but Allah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the Oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad SAW, ‘Iesa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), etc., or in His Holy Books, e.g. the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Quran] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute” (Quran 3:54-55, Muhsin Khan) [↩]
- Muslim commentators have taught that this passage, Quran 4:157-158 denies Jesus’ death on the cross,
And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of ‘Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) ]:
But Allah raised him [‘Iesa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” (Quran 4:157-158, Muhsin Khan)
Muslims believes Jesus will return in the future and die after ruling about forty years, “Muslims will then perform the funeral prayer for him and then bury him in the city of Medina in a grave left vacant beside Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and Umar” (“Jesus in Islam.” Wikipedia. 8 September 2011 [↩]