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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Nuts and Bolts: the making of the Koran.

After the dreadful events in Manchester, I thought I should write about the holy book of Islam, the Koran. 

Here's a quotation from the Koran: 

Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them  7:157.

So we can take it as established that the Prophet Muhammad could neither read nor write. This was quite usual for someone in Mecca in the 600s. There was, moreover, an established tradition at the time (as nowadays) of learning texts off by heart, so it would have been quite natural for the Archangel Gabriel to convey God's words verbally to Muhammad, as we have been told was the case.

The revelation of God's words didn't come to Muhammad all at once, but on various occasions, the first one happening in Mecca when Muhammad was forty years old. That was twenty two years before his death in the year 632 CE (CE stands for Common Era, but it's the same as AD). 

Of course the possibility of another message arriving from God meant that a complete Koran couldn't be compiled while the Prophet lived. So: where was the incomplete text of the Koran kept between Muhammad's first revelation and his death? It would have been in the memories of Muhammad and his followers, of course, but was the text written down, too? 

I was going to say that no one's sure, but it would be nearer the truth to say that plenty of people are sure, but no one has the sort of proof that convinces everyone else.

So there we are. The wise scholars disagree, and I, certainly, do not know.

It seems to me that this is a matter for humility...

...but then I remember the Manchester Arena and I wonder what act, what act in all the world, could be more full of terrible pride than the taking of a life?

Word To Use Today: Koran. This word comes from the Arabic qur'ān, which means reading, or book, and comes from qara'a, to read or recite.


This is the Basmala, a phrase that appears many times in the Koran. It means in the name of God, the Most Gracious, the most Merciful.

If only man were more like God.

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