History and Story Behind the Muslim Holy Book the Koran Part 2

About the religious book the Koran, history of the famous holy book of the Muslim religion.

STORIES BEHIND THE HOLY BOOKS OF THE WORLD

THE KORAN

Contents: The Koran consists of 77,934 words and 6,236 verses (ayat) arranged in 114 chapters, or suras. The haphazard record keeping during Mohammed's lifetime made an accurate chronological arrangement impossible, so the suras are arranged, with a few exceptions, in order of length, with the longest first and the shortest last. This means that the earliest suras appear toward the end and the later ones toward the beginning. Except for the ninth sura, which apparently once formed part of the eighth, all suras begin with Bismillah, the Arabic formula meaning "In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate."

The Koran is believed to be the most perfect example of Arabic composition and as such has had an inestimable effect on the development of the language. It uses the literary form known as the sadj, or rhymed, unmetered prose.

Muslims believe that the Koran is a perfect but partial copy of a book that exists complete in heaven. The Old and New Testaments are thought to be perverted versions of this same book. The Koran consists, not of coherent histories, but of pronouncements addressed to Mohammed or the community at large that respond to problems faced at various times. It lacks unified, exhaustive discussions of laws, beliefs, and so forth; rather, it takes up various topics as they arise.

Sample Quote:

Oh believers, believe in Allah and His Messenger

and the Book He hath sent down to His Messenger

and the Book He sent down before.

Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His

Books and His messengers and the last day hath

surely gone astray into far error.

(IV, 135)

Its Publishing History: Countless hundreds of millions of copies, both handwritten and printed, have been produced. Muslims do not regard translations as embodying the true Koran; they serve only as guides to study. The first edition printed in Arabic was made in Europe in 1530, but was destroyed by the Christian church. The printed version in current use derives from one printed in Cairo in 1919 under the patronage of the Egyptian crown.

Unusual Facts: Mohammed knew about, but apparently had not read, the holy books of the Jews and Christians. Many stories and personages from the Bible appear in the Koran, but in somewhat different form. According to the Koran, for example, Abraham almost sacrificed Ishmael, his son by the servant woman Hagar, instead of Isaac, his son by his wife Sarah. Mary, Jesus' mother, is identified with Miriam, Moses' sister. Mary appears as a goddess who constitutes one person of the Trinity. And Jesus, instead of dying on the cross, was taken alive into heaven, and a phantom was put in his place on Calvary.

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