Monday, May 10, 2010

Qur'an

I would like to start the "Religion" category with a short introduction about the Qur'an.  As you may know, this is the central religious text of Islam, the final revelation of God and divine guidance for mankind. The key phrase is "sent down by God", for God speaks directly in the Qur'an.

Historians agree that the first revelation dates back to 610 CE, when Muhammad was engaged in a spiritual retreat in a cave outside Mecca and the Archangel Gabriel approached him. So the first words of the Qur'an were heard:

"Read: In the name of your Lord Who created,
Created man from clots.
Read: And your Lord is The Most Honorable,
Who taught by the pen..
He thought man what he did not know."
(96: 1-5 / Dr. Ghali translation)

Qur'anic revelations are believed to have come to the Prophet over a period of twenty-three years. The scriptures are divided into 114 suras and each verse is known in Arabic as "aya". The material is not in a chronological or thematic order but as it is to be read by the believers (and also by how big the Suras are, the second being the longest).

The key to Islamic art could lie in the Qur'an. Hossein Nasr thinks that the verses influenced artistic thought, some of them being poetic while others direct in this way, leading to the floral and geometric motifs.

Before Abu Bakr, the first caliph, decided to write down and organize the scriptures, these were preserved by oral tradition. Also, a great part of the Qur'an was written down during the lifetime of Muhammad, but the content was not united in a single corpus. Abu Bakr managed to preserve the teachings which after the battle of Yamama were in danger of being lost.

The Qur'an contains three types of messages for humans. The first is the doctrinal message which includes moral and judiciary recommendations which is at the base of the Holy Muslim Law, the Shari'ah. It also contains metaphysical elements, a cosmology about the structure of the universe, and subjects like eschatology and the Afterlife.

In the second place, at least on the surface, the Qur'an is a vast history book, a commentary about the terrestrial existence of man. And last, it can be described as possessing "divine magic" (do not take it literally). The words from God have a special power just like the cross for the Christians.

We can see an emphasis on praying for protection against evil and the Qur'an helps man overcome difficulty with patience.

1 comment:

Reverse Road! said...

A very pleasant reading. Well done Florin! I'm waiting for more articles like this.