In the Name of Allah (God Almighty), Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Western Perceptions of the Holy Qur'an



"The divine revelation was the cornerstone of Islam. The recital of a passage from it formed an essential part of daily prayer, public and private; and its perusal and repetition were enforced as a duty and a privilege fraught with religious merit."

"The Coran was accordingly committed to memory more or less by every adherent of Islam, and the extent to which it could be recited was one of the chief distinctions of nobility in the early Moslem7 empire."

"The custom of Arabia favoured the task. Passionately fond of poetry, yet possessed of but limited means and skill in committing to writing the effusions of their bards, the Arabs had long been habituated to imprint these, as well as the tradition of genealogical and other tribal events, on the living tablets of their hearts. The recollective faculty was thus cultivated to the highest pitch; and it was applied, with all the ardour of an awakened spirit, to the Coran1." "Such was the tenacity of their memory, and so great their power of application, that several of Mahomet's followers, according to early tradition, could, during his lifetime, repeat with scrupulous accuracy the entire revelation." "Many fragmentary copies, embracing amongst them the whole Coran, or nearly the whole, were made by Mahomet's followers during his life."

"Besides the reference in the Coran1 to its own existence in a written form , we have express mention made in the authentic traditions of Omar's conversion, of a copy of the 20th Sura being used by his sister's family for social and private devotional reading. This refers to a period preceding, by three or four years, the emigration to Medina. If transcripts of the revelations were made, and in common use, at that early time when the followers of Islam were few and oppressed, it is certain that they must have multiplied exceedingly when the Prophet came to power, and this Book formed the law of the greater part of Arabia."

"Such was the condition of the text of the Coran1 during Mahomet's2 life-time ... imprinted upon the hearts of his people, and fragmentary transcripts increasing daily. The two sources would correspond closely with each other; for the Coran1, even while the Prophet was yet alive, was regarded ... as containing the very words of God; so that any variations would be reconciled by a direct reference to Mahomet2 himself, and after his death to the originals where they existed, or copies from the same, and to the memory of the Prophet's confidential friends and amanuenses."

"There is probably in the world no other work which has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text."

"We may then safely conclude that Othman's recension was, what it professed to be, namely, the reproduction of Abu Bakr's edition."

"The most important question yet remains, viz., Whether Abu Bakr's edition was itself an authentic and complete collection of Mahomet's2 Revelations. The following considerations warrant the belief that it was authentic."

"First. - We have no reason to doubt that Abu Bakr was a sincere follower of Mahomet2, and an earnest believer in the divine origin of the Coran1. His faithful attachment to the Prophet's person, conspicuous for the last twenty years of his life, and his simple, consistent, and unambitious deportment as Caliph, admit no other supposition. Firmly believing the revelations of his friend to be the revelations of God Himself, his first object would be to secure a pure and complete transcript of them. A similar argument applies with almost equal force to Omar and the other agents."

"The great mass of Mussulmans were undoubtedly sincere in their belief. From the scribes themselves, employed in the compilation, down to the humblest Believer who brought his little store of writing on stones or palm-leaves, all would be influenced by the same earnest desire to reproduce the very words which their Prophet had declared as his message from the Lord. And a similar guarantee existed in the feelings of the people at large, in whose soul no principle was more deeply rooted than an awful reverence for the ... word of God. The Coran1 itself contains frequent denunciations against those who should presume to 'fabricate anything in the name of the Lord,' or conceal any part of that which He had revealed. Such an action, represented as the very worst description of crime, we cannot believe that the first Moslems7, in the early ardour of their faith and love, would have dared to contemplate.

"Second. - The compilation was made within two years of Mahomet's2 death. We have seen that several of his followers had the entire revelation ... by heart; that every Moslem treasured up more or less some portions in his memory; and that there were official Reciters of it, for public worship and tuition, in all countries to which Islam extended. These formed a living link between the Revelation fresh from Mahomet's2 lips, and the edition of it by Zeid. Thus the people were not only sincere and fervent in wishing for a faithful copy of the Coran1 : they were also in possession of ample means for realising their desire, and for testing the accuracy and completeness of the volume placed in the hands of Abu Bakr.

"Third. - A still greater security would be obtained from the fragmentary transcripts which existed in Mahomet's2 life-time, and which must have greatly multiplied before the Coran1 was compiled. These were in the possession, probably, of all who could read. And as we know that the compilation of Abu Bakr came into immediate and unquestioned use, it is reasonable to conclude that it embraced and corresponded with every extant fragment; and therefore, by common consent superseded them. We hear of no fragments, sentences, or word intentionally omitted by the compilers, nor of any that differed from the received edition. Had any such been discoverable, they would undoubtedly have been preserved and noticed in those traditional repositories which treasured up the minutest and most trivial acts and sayings of the Prophet.

"Fourth. - The contents and the arrangement of the Coran1 speak forcibly for its authenticity. All the fragments that could be obtained have, with artless simplicity, been joined together. The patchwork bears no marks of a designing genius or moulding hand. It testifies to the faith and reverence of the compilers, and proves that they dared no more than simply collect the sacred fragments and place them in juxtaposition.

"The conclusion, which we may now with confidence draw, is that the editions of Abu Bakr and of Othman were not only faithful but, so far as the materials went, complete."

"We may upon the strongest presumption affirm that every verse in the Coran1 is the genuine and unaltered composition" as recited by "Mahomet himself."

The Life Of Mahomet, London: Smith, Elder and Company, 1878, Pages 551-562 - Sir William Muir.


"From the literary point of view, the Koran1 is regarded as a specimen of the purest Arabic , written in half poetry and half prose. It has been said that in some cases grammarians have adopted their rules to agree with certain phrases and expressions used in it and that though several attempts have been made to produce a work equal to it as far as elegant writing is concerned, none has as yet succeeded."

The Construction Of The Bible And The Koran, London 1885, Page 5 - F.F. Arbuthnot.


"Whenever Muhammad was asked a miracle, as a proof of the authenticity of his mission, he quoted the composition of the Qur'an and its comparable excellence as proof of its Divine origin. And, in fact, even for those who are non-Muslims nothing is more marvellous than its language which, with such a prehensile plenitude and a grasping sonority with its simple audition, ravished with admiration those primitive peoples so fond of eloquence. The ampleness of its syllables with a grandiose cadence and with a remarkable rhythm have been of much moment in the conversion of the most hostile and the most sceptic."

L'Enseignement de l'Arabe au College de France, Lecon d'overture, 26 April 1909 - Paul Casanova.


It is a literal revelation of God, dictated to Muhammad by Gabriel , perfect in every letter. It is an ever-present miracle witnessing to itself and to Muhammad, the Prophet of God. Its miraculous quality resides partly in its style, so perfect and lofty that neither men nor jinn could produce a single chapter to compare with its briefest chapter4, and partly in its content of teachings, prophecies about the future, and amazingly accurate information such as the illiterate Muhammad could never have gathered of his own accord."

Towards Understanding Islam, New York 1948, Page 3 - Harry Gaylord Dorman.


"The Koran1 is probably the most often read book in the world, surely the most often memorised, and possibly the most influential in the daily life of the people who believe in it." "It is this combination of dedication to one God, plus practical instruction, that makes the Koran1 unique. Each Islamic nation contains many citizens who are convinced that their land will be governed well only if its laws conform to the Koran1."

Islam: The Misunderstood Religion, the Reader's Digest (American Edition), May 1955 - James A. Michener.


"We must not be surprised to find the Qur'an the fountainhead of the sciences. Every subject connected with heaven or earth, human life, commerce and various trades are occasionally touched upon, and this gave rise to the production of numerous monographs forming commentaries on parts of the holy book. In this way the Qur'an was responsible for great discussions, and to it was indirectly due to the marvellous development of all branches of science in the Muslim world."

"This again not only affected the Arabs but also induced Jewish philosophers to treat metaphysical and religious questions after Arab methods. Finally, the way in which Christian scholasticism was fertilised by Arabian theosophy need not be further discussed."

"The descriptive revelations ... repeatedly call attention to the movement of the heavenly bodies, as parts of the miracles of Allah forced into the service of man and therefore not to be worshipped. How successfully Moslem7 people of all races pursued the study of astronomy is shown by the fact that for centuries they were its principal supporters. Even now many Arabic names of stars and technical terms are in use. Medieval astronomers in Europe were pupils of the Arabs." "In the same manner the Qur'an gave an impetus to medical studies and recommended the contemplation and study of Nature in general."

New Researches Into The Composition And Exegesis Of The Qur'an, London 1902, Page 9 - Hartwig Hirschfeld (Ph.d., M.R.A.S.).


"It was in a totally objective spirit, and without any preconceived ideas that I first examined the Koranic Revelation1. I was looking for the degree of compatibility between the Koranic1 text and the data of modern science. I knew from translations that the Koran often made allusion to all sorts of natural phenomena, but I only had a summary knowledge. It was only when I examined the text very closely in Arabic that I kept a list of them, at the end of which I had to acknowledge the evidence in front of me: the Koran1 did not contain a single statement that was assailable from a modern scientific point of view.

"I repeated the same test for the Old Testament and the Gospels, always preserving the same objective outlook. In the former I did not even have to go beyond the first book, Genesis, to find statements totally out of keeping with the cast-iron facts of modern science. What strikes us today when we are faced with such contradictions and incompatibilities with well-established scientific data, is how specialities studying the texts either pretend to be unaware of them, or else draw attention to these defects then try to camouflage them with dialectic acrobatics."

The Bible, The Koran And Science, Page 15 - Dr. Maurice Bucaille.

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