The Quran is the word of Allah revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Jibreel. The first revelation marked the beginning of Muhammad’s Prophethood, and continued for 23 years through the birth and growth of Islam in Arabia.
The Quran was sent down to an oral society, where people were used to memorising books of poetry. They prided themselves on being able to create and recite poetry, and hence it was easy for them to commit the Quran to mind. The Prophet also made them write it down as soon as it was revealed, and his preferred scribe was Zaid bin Thabith. The muslims were constantly learning the Quran, memorizing it and putting its teachings to action, hence as promised by Allah, the Quran was preserved in their minds.
We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). (Quran 15:9)
What many non-muslims find astonishing is that The Quran is not in the same order that the verses were revealed it. Part of its miracle is that the revelations were often revealed in a single verse or just a few verses, and have then been placed in an entirely different order which still manages to read as though it were revealed at once.
Jibreel would notify the prophet of its order, and each Ramadan Muhammad would recite the entire Quran (what was revealed upto that point) to Jibreel in the presence of his sahabah, and Jibreel would correct any mistakes in the order. Although he took charge of the ordering process, The Quran was also not compiled into one book during the Prophet’s lifetime, but he did set the first stone for preserving it by recording it in writing.
Muslims believe that the text of the Quran in Arabic has remained unchanged through the centuries till today. This belief is central to a muslim’s faith because the Quran is the highest authority for all legislation in Islam, and to be a muslim one must believe in the authenticity of the Quran. If a dispute arises among the scholars regarding a practice, where a recorded hadith even if authentic contradicts the quran, then the Quranic judgement is placed over that hadith.
The Quran is made up of 114 surahs (parts or chapters) which are called either Makki or Madani, depending on when they were revealed. Makki surahs are those revealed in Makkah until the Prophet migrated to Medinah. The Makki surahs focus on tawhid, the unity of worship, it preaches against the evils of polygamy, adultery, slandering, backbiting, ill-treating ones parents, and warns against the trials of the last day , hell and heaven etc.
The madani surahs are mostly on jurisprudence, and all the necessary rules to bring about a just peaceful society, and the guidance needed by a budding Islamic community in the middle of much strife. Apart from these the Quran also gives us a narration from the creator of the people of old, such as the references throughout the Quran to the house of Israel, and how they turned away from Allah even though Prophets were sent to them repeatedly with many miracles.
When reading the Quran, one cannot help but be moved at being blessed enough to hold in our hands such a glorious creation of God, the miracle of Rasoolullah, that has stood the test of time. Through every age it has been a shining lamp in the darkness, and in the time of the Prophet it was a literary miracle, as among a people gifted with poetry, none was able to match its eloquence and elegance.
When the polytheists ridiculed it Allah sent a challenge which still stands to this day yet no man has come forward with anything that closely resembles it.
Or they say: He hath invented it. Say: Then bring ten surahs, the like thereof, invented, and call on everyone ye can beside Allah, if ye are truthful! (Quran 11:13)
Later, when nobody could meet the challenge, Allah challenged them even further by reducing it to just one surah. Still, even none of the great arab poets could meet this.
Or say they: He hath invented it? Say: Then bring a surah like unto it, and call (for help) on all ye can besides Allah, if ye are truthful. (Quran 10:38)
The Arabs were astounded by its magnificence, as one of the famed poets of the time Walid bin Al-Mughira said “By God: None of you is more conversant than I with poetry, melodious hymns, and songs, and by God never did I hear anything similar to what he says. It is so sweet, and so graceful that it remains at the summit with nothing to surpass it.”
When none of them were able to meet the challenge, then Allah the almighty, master of all speech said:
Say: “If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur´an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.” (Quran 17:88)
Even in today’s age of science, new discoveries and technology it still remains a miracle. Nobody who actually studies and reflects on it can deny that there is a divine touch to this book. It will remain with us to the last day and as Allah says in Surah al-Imran:
And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves … (Quran 3:103)
The Prophet Muhammad later explained the meaning of this as: “Surely this Qur’an is God’s strong rope, manifest light, and beneficial source of healing. It is protection for those who hold fast to it, and a means of salvation for those who abide by it.” Hadith found in Biharul Anwar, Volume 92, Page 19.