The Qur’an may be regarded as a divine book and a living act of speech for the Muslim community across the globe. Received by Muhammad through the angel’s mediation, it presents itself as “the last of a sequence of revealed holy books” that include the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels (Lawall 73). The Qur’an recognizes Christians and Jews, the followers of monotheistic religions as “people of the Book” guided by the word of God revealed by a substantial number of prophets (Lawall 74). In addition, the first converts to Islam derived from the local Jewish and Christian communities of Arabia as they were marveled at different perspectives brought by a new revelation (Lawall 74). At the same time, Muslims believe that divine in the inspiration of the Torah, the Gospels, and the Psalms had become substantially corrupt in course of time. That is why only through the submission to the word of God revealed in Qur’an faithful expect to avoid hell and enter into paradise.
Since the Qur’an started to be investigated as a work of world literature, it was invariably defined as a marvel “whose divine inspiration is manifest in the form of lyrical chant and resonant verse” (Lawall 74). It initially existed as an oral recitation repeated by Muhammad and his followers (Lawall 75). However, as a book, the Qur’an appeared after the prophet’s death when the community realized the necessity to record the oral text to “ensure that errors do not creep into the recitation” (Lawall 74). It was completed under the supervision of three caliphs, and all imperfect copies were destroyed. At the same time, any physical copy of the Qur’an is currently regarded as “a pale reflection of that ideal book” (Lawall 73). In addition, for believers, any translation of the Qur’an is no more than an aid for the original’s understanding.
In general, the Quran is identified with a particular period, a specific region, and one person. It is divided into 144 chapters, called surahs that vary in length, and each surah includes several ayat, or verses (Lawall 74). Surahs are not arranged either thematically or chronologically, and they may cover numerous topics even within one chapter. In addition, the book is divided into thirty relatively equal parts to facilitate the entire work’s recitation in one month. As the oral recitation of the Qur’an is necessary for Muslims’ daily prayers, the faithful begin to memorize it since childhood. All surahs are characterized by a constant repetition of phrases and a highly structured nature and they are strongly connected with the Zoroastrian, Christian, and Jewish traditions of faith and Neoplatonic concept of intellectual illumination (Lawall 75).
From a personal perspective, the significance of the Qur’an for the Islamic civilization, the Arabic language, and world literature is impossible to evaluate. From the position of religion, the Qur’an is traditionally regarded as the reproduction of eternal heavenly original and a literal transcription of God’s speech. It is a unique work in terms of its style and composition, and its virtue may be highly appreciated exclusively in the oral recitation that reveals its rhythmic structure. As a sacred text and an inimitable divine book, it encompasses the matters of morality, faith, lessons, ideals, and legal practices.
Lawall, Sarah. The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Volume B. 2nd ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2001.