Arabic: ‘al-qur’an ‘al-karīm
Other spellings: Qur’an, Quran, Qor’an

1. Understanding the Koran
2. Using the Koran
3. Translations
4. Word of god or man?

Luxury Koran in Arabic written on parchment. Ca. 1300. Now in Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany.

The Holy Koran
In English translation. Number of ayas (verses) in 3. column

1. Opening / Fatiha
7 verses
2. The Cow
286 verses
3. Imran’s house
200 verses
4. Women
175 verses
5. The Table
120 verses
6. Cattle
165 verses
7. The Heights
205 verses
8. The Spoils
76 verses
9. Repentance
130 verses
10. Jonah
109 verses
11. Hud
123 verses
12. Joseph
111 verses
13. Thunder
43 verses
14. Abraham
52 verses
15. El Hijr
99 verses
16. The Bee
128 verses
17. Night Journey
111 verses
18. The Cave
110 verses
19. Mary
98 verses
20. Ta Ha
135 verses
21. The Prophets
112 verses
22. The Pilgrimage
78 verses
23. Believers
118 verses
24. Light
64 verses
25. Discrimination
77 verses
26. Poets
228 verses
27. The Ant
95 verses
28. The Story
88 verses
29. The Spider
69 verses
30. The Greeks
60 verses
31. Luqman
34 verses
32. Adoration
30 verses
33. Confederates
73 verses
34. Saba
54 verses
35. The Creator
45 verses
36. Ya Sin
83 verses
37. The Ranks
182 verses
38. Sad
88 verses
39. The Hordes
75 verses
40. The Forgiving One/ The Believer
85 verses
41. Clear revelations
54 verses
42. Counsel
53 verses
43. The Gilding
89 verses
44. The Smoke
59 verses
45. The Kneeling
36 verses
46. The Sand Dunes
34 verses
47. Muhammad
40 verses
48. Victory
29 verses
49. The Inner Chambers
17 verses
50. Q
45 verses
51. The Winds
60 verses
52. The Mountain
49 verses
53. The Star
62 verses
54. The Moon
55 verses
55. The Merciful
78 verses
56. The Inevitable
96 verses
57. Iron
29 verses
58. The Pleader
22 verses
59. Exile
24 verses
60. The Tried
13 verses
61. The Ranks
14 verses
62. The Congregation
11 verses
63. The Hypocrites
11 verses
64. Cheating
18 verses
65. Divorce
12 verses
66. Prohibition
12 verses
67. The Kingdom
30 verses
68. The Pen
52 verses
69. The Catastrophe
52 verses
70. The Ladders
44 verses
71. Noah
29 verses
72. The Jinn
28 verses
73. The Enwrapped
20 verses
74. The Covered
55 verses
75. The Resurrection
39 verses
76. Man
31 verses
77. Those sent
50 verses
78. The Tidings
41 verses
79. Those Who Tear Out
45 verses
80. He Frowned
42 verses
81. The Darkening
29 verses
82. The Cleaving Of The Sky
19 verses
83. The Unjust
36 verses
84. The Rending Asunder
25 verses
85. Zodiacal Signs
22 verses
86. Night Star
17 verses
87. The Most High
19 verses
88. The Overwhelming
26 verses
89. The Dawn
30 verses
90. The City
20 verses
91. The Sun
15 verses
92. The Night
21 verses
93. The Forenoon
11 verses
94. The Opening
8 verses
95. The Fig
8 verses
96. Congealed Blood
19 verses
97. Night of Power
5 verses
98. Manifest Sign
8 verses
99. The Earthquake
8 verses
100. The Chargers
11 verses
101. The Disaster
8 verses
102. Wordly Gain
8 verses
103. Force Of Time
3 verses
104. The Backbiter
9 verses
105. The Elephant
5 verses
106. The Quraysh
4 verses
107. Alms
7 verses
108. Abundance
3 verses
109. The Misbelievers
6 verses
110. The Help
3 verses
111. Fibre
5 verses
112. Unity
4 verses
113. Daybreak
5 verses
114. Humans
6 verses

The holy book of Islam. Also referred to in English as “Quran”, or “Qur’an”. The latter is the correct transliteration, but in Contents we use the common “Koran”.
The exact meaning of the word “Koran” is not clear for us today, but the three main theories. It may either be connected to the word for ‘collect’; or to the word for ‘tie together’; or perhaps best to the most commonly used word for “read” or “recite,” which is an important verb in the book itself.
The Koran as a book is the result of:

1. Alleged revelations to Muhammad in the period 610-632 (Muhammad’s death).

2. Writing down of these revelations by people around Muhammad in a period probably starting some years after 610, and ending a couple of years after 632.

3. Compilation of these writings stretching from mid-630’s and perhaps until mid-650’s.

4. Stories relating to Muhammad, largely stories in which he communicates with God, usually concerning contemporary matters.

5. Vowelling and dotting of the text. Ancient Arabic was written without dots, leaving some letters look identical. And in many cases the lack of vowels would make two different words look identical.
Prior to the 5th stage, it was, therefore, up to the memories of the learned to remember what was the correct meaning of every word. But as these learned people died, the early Muslim community found it important to save the exact meaning once and for all, before it was too late.Understanding the Koran
Essential to the reading of the Koran are the interpretations of the content. Even in modern times, there are scholars working on interpreting the text, but most of the material available now was performed within the earliest centuries of Islam.
As the Koran has a structure and a language, as well as allusions, which often are difficult for the normal Muslim to understand, a whole science were built around the comprehension of the Koran. The early Muslims studied history, language and nature science in an effort to understand the Koran better. The product is surprisingly well accepted by the whole Muslim society, and no Muslim child or adult of today, studying the Koran, does this without help from the interpretations built on the early sciences of the Koran.
The early efforts of Koranic science have given room for different approaches to the book and its content, but all interpretations are considered equal, and none can be claimed better than the other.
There are today 7 ways of reading the Koran, each of these have two variances, leaving the Muslims with 14 ways of reading the Koran. But in modern Koranic science this applies only to Muslim scholars, the ordinary Muslim reads the Koran without entering this level of complexity.
The Koran is divided into 114 suras, which are opened by indications on their origin. The origin is either Mecca or Madina. But it is generally assumed that some suras have content from both town, even though one is presented as the origin. The whole structure of the Koran is a science in itself, as there is no chronology in it, like the one found in the Bible, and as most of it consists of commandments and warnings, and only a small part are stories.
The following can be said about its structure: Except the first sura, ‘al-fatiha, ‘The Commencement’, the longest suras are found in the beginning, and then gradually decreases on to the end of the Koran. Sura 2, ‘al-baqara, ‘The Cow’ is 286 āya (verses) long, while sura 114 is only 6 aya long. But the shortest are sura 103, 106 and 108, all consisting of 3 aya.

Using the Koran
The two main importances of the Koran for the believer are:
1. Being the one and only commandment from God. The Koran is regarded by most as the non-created word of God, written on golden tablets in Paradise. This view, strongly contended inside the Muslim world in the first centuries, became orthodox towards the end of the most fruitful period of Muslim science (it is however clear that this is misunderstanding, see below).
Until the middle of the 9th century (2nd hijra century) the dominating view among theologians was that the Koran was created by God, hence it is his spoken word. For Muslims today, the Koran is seen as a physical proof of Islam.
2. Being the sound of Islam. When recited, a holy atmosphere is created, an atmosphere involving God, the world, the truth and peace. During the moment of reciting, the compound becomes sacred, and the moment powerful.
The reciting of the Koran is an art known by most Muslims. The most frequently used technique normally involves sitting on the ground with the book in the lap or placed on a specially made low table. This sitting position is resembling the lotus position used in eastern religions, but is not at all strict on the upright position of the spine — most Muslims bend over the Koran as they read.
The reading technique uses a rhythm with around 60 beats a minute. The performance of this rhythm, is done with both torso, swaying a little in a oval shape, as well as with the voice and the speed of reading. Surprisingly overlooked by most Western scholars, the reading of the Koran is a meditative moment for a Muslim and it is a ritual that can be performed anywhere anytime.
The Koran’s actual guidance in everyday life for Muslims, must not be overestimated, despite the common misconception that the Koran gives guidance on all aspects of life. As a matter of fact, for most moral and legal questions the answer will not be found in the Koran. This is well illustrated by the many other sources used for the development of Sharia.
And in general, most Muslims will think of the Koran as far too complex to be a guide in daily matters if it should be interpreted by a Muslim layman.
When a Muslim has problems understanding the real truth of the Koran, he/she will resort to books written by men learned in Islamic sciences or ask the learned in the local society. There are situations where Muslims look up the Koran for guidance, but this will be in cases where they know what to look for, and where to look and feel competent to interpret the content.

Muslims not speaking Arabic will normally stick to an Arabic version of the Koran. Most of them will learn how to read Arabic text, and learn some Arabic words, and then read the Koran according to the way described above. In general, Muslims will agree that the Koran can never be correctly translated, and that the Arabic original is the only version that is correct.
Translations of the Koran are in many cases a fruit of the needs of Western scholars to have a uniform text which is common in between them. Also, the Koranic translations are motived by curiosity and interest of many non-Muslims.
The first translation of the Koran into another language was to Latin in 1143, and this was performed by a monk, who sought understanding of the Crusaders‘ enemy.
From the 18th century and up until now, the Koran has been translated into most Western languages, and with a steadily increasing quality. Today most Muslims endorse this effort, with the hope that some misunderstandings on Islam can be refuted, and also with the hope of conversions by people of the West.

Word of God or man?
There is a common idea today that all of the content of the Koran is eternal and there is a theological idea that the original of the Koran is written on tablets in heaven, as said in sura 85:22. A common idea is that these tables are made from gold, as any other material would degrade the book.
But the heavenly, eternal “Koran” cannot be the entire volume of today’s Koran, it can only be understood as the core content of the modern book. Virtually all Muslims believe that the modern Koran equals to perfection the heavenly, but this notion must be deemed a misunderstanding. This view was challenged by the prominent Egyptian Mufti (1899-1905), Muhammad Abduh, who ascribed many parts of it to the personal thinking of Muhammad himself, hence not being the word of God.
Therefore, the Koran must be understood as an amalgamation of 2 forms of content: The message alleged to be from God to Muhammad in order to pass on to humankind. The other element are stories or passages relating to Muhammad’s prophetic activity, as well as God’s advice directly on Muhammad’s prophetic activity. Below follows examples of a couple of aya relating directly to incidents from Muhammad’s own life:

Koran sura 33: Confederates
37 And when thou didst say to him [Muhammad’s adopted son] God had shown favour to and thou hadst shown favour to, �Keep thy wife to thyself and fear God;� and thou didst conceal in thy soul what God was about to display; and didst fear men, though God is more deserving that thou shouldst fear Him; and when Zaid had fulfilled his desire of her we did wed thee to her that there should be no hindrance to the believers in the matter of the wives of their adopted sons when they have fulfilled their desire of them: and so God�s bidding to be done.Koran sura 16: The Bee
103 And whenever we change one verse for another,- God knows best what He sends down. They say, �Thou art but a forger!�- Nay, most of them do not know.

There are no traces of any ideas in early Islam that the second of these elements had existed prior to Muhammad. But as soon as the Koran was compiled into a book, its importance grew and its force as the foundation of the Islamic faith became something a Muslim couldn’t question. After time the misunderstanding of the Koran as a perfect creation of God had established itself, and any Muslim claiming that not every single word of the Koran was sacred, risked his position in society, his health or even life.


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