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Chapter-9: Quran


 Qur’an (literally means; ‘Recitation’), the sacred scripture of Islam, the infallible word of God, a perfect transcription of an eternal tablet preserved in Heaven and revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his 23 years of his apostolic mission (610-632 C.E) for the guidance of humanity (Qur’an;12:104, 25:1, 38:87, 68:52, 81:27, 73:19). God says: “Blessed is the One Who has revealed Al-Furqan (the criterion to distinguish right from wrong: The Qur’an) to His servant, that he may be a Warner to the worlds”(Qur’an;25:1); “O Prophet, surely We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, for the instruction of Mankind. He who follows the Right Way shall follow it for his own good; and he who goes astray shall do so at his own peril. You are not set up as a guardian over them.”(Qur’an;39:41); “This is nothing but a reminder and a plain Qur’an to warn those who are alive (in heart) and to establish the charge against the disbelievers (on the Day of Judgment)” (Qur’an; 36:69-70). Qur’an is simple and straight message of God (Qur’an;69:40-3,6.153, 18:1-3). It is part of articles of faith of a Muslims to believe in all the previous messengers of God and the scriptures; in the original form in which they were revealed upon them. Allah says: “ (Qur’an is a guide for those) who believe in this Revelation (The Qur’an) which is sent to you (O Muhammad) and the Revelations which were sent before you (Torah, Psalms, Gospel...) and firmly believe in the Hereafter.”(Qur’an;2:4).

The Previous Scriptures for Limited Period:

The revelations received by the earlier messengers, some available in the form of books in Bible (Torah, Psalms, Gospel etc) were meant for specific people for specific time, besides not being in the original revealed form, their authenticity can not be established due to variant versions.  Allah says: “He has revealed to you this Book (Qur’an) with the Truth, confirming whatever there still remains of the scripture which preceded it, as He revealed the Torah and Gospel, aforetime as a guidance unto mankind, and it is He who has bestowed (upon man) the standard by which to discern the true from the false. Behold, as for those who are bent on denying God’s messages- grievous suffering awaits them: for God is Almighty, an avenger of evil.”(Qur’an;3:3-4); "Truth has come and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.”(Qur’an;17:81). Allah says: “And, verily, (the essence of ) this (revelation, i.e. Qur’an) is indeed found in the ancient books of divine wisdom (as well) (Qur’an;26:196,link 2:42, 61:6), Qur’an was foretold in Bible, Deutronomy;18:15 &18. Hence to discern the true from the false the previous scriptures have been abrogated and replaced with the final revelation.(Qur’an; 2:106-107, 16:101, 5:48). Hence it is obligatory for the humanity to now follow it.

Flawless System of Recording and Preservation:

The Qur’an consists of 114 chapters (sūrahs) of varying length, revealed in Arabic language. The Qur’an, comprising 6236 verses (ayah) is unrivalled in its recording and preservation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) not only orally passed the Qur’an to the people of Arabia, he also made elaborate arrangements to ensure that its contents are preserved. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) participated in this preservation process in large numbers, through writing and memorizing the text and safely transferring to the next generation. The Qur’an is not like the writings of the New Testament, where as per Christian traditions, God inspired a scribe to write down the scripture; the idea and words were those of the scribe while God only supervised the scribe. In other cases, the Christians would like to say that the scribe was inspired by God and revealed a certain idea to him. The scribe then wrote it down in his own words.
In case of the Qur’an, the words and ideas are both Divine. The words and verses of the Qur’an were preserved, through the oral as well as the written traditions, in the lifetime of Prophet (peace be upon him), as also evident from the internal evidence from Qur’an, which repeatedly mentions itself as ‘al- kitaab’ (The Book) from the very beginning: “This (Qur’an) is the Book; in it is guidance sure without doubt to those who fear Allah.”(Qur’an;2:2);“Recite from this Book (Qur'an) which has been revealed to you”(Qur’an;29:45); “And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him.”(Qur’an;18:27). Allah says: “By no means (should it be so)! For it (Qur’an) is indeed a Message of instruction: Therefore let who will keep it in remembrance. It is written in scrolls, which are honored, exalted, purified, and which remain in the hands of scribes, who are noble and virtuous.”(Qur’an;80:11-16).
Abdullah Yousaf Ali explains that: “At the time when this Sura Abasa (Chapter Number: 80) was revealed, at Makka;  there were perhaps only about 42 or 45 Suras (Chapter) in the hands of the Muslims. But it was a sufficient body of Revelation of high spiritual value, to which the description given here could be applied. It was held in the highest honor; its place in the hearts of Muslims was more exalted than that of anything else; as Allah's Word, it was pure and sacred; and those who transcribed it were men who were honorable, just and pious. The legend that the early Suras were not carefully written down and preserved in books is a pure conjecture.
The efforts made later in the time of the first and the third Caliph were merely to preserve the purity and safeguard the arrangement of the text at a time when the expansion of Islam among non-Arabic-speaking people made such precautions necessary”. The details of the process of compilation of the Holy Qur’an is found in the books of history and exegesis, a glimpse here provide the insight to the process of its preservation and dissemination. Initially (while at Mecca) Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to read out the revealed passages to the small group of his followers who besides committing the revelation to their memory also used to write it down on available writing material. Subsequently, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) himself unlettered, constituted a committee of more than forty of his literate companions, who were assigned the task of writing the Holy Book.
On receiving a verse or verses from Allah through revelation, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) used to call one of the members of the committee and dictated it. At this time, the Holy Prophet also used to instruct the scribe as to where the newly revealed verse or verses were to be placed in the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Prophet thus not only used to dictate scattered verses but also give a divine order of arrangement of each verse. Zaid bin Thabit (one of scribes) reports that after having dictated the verse, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would ask the scribe to read it out. Errors if any were rectified and the final draft was approved. Although the Qur’an had been compiled in the lifetime of the Prophet (died 632 C.E), yet need of preparation of official copy was felt during the reign of Abu Bakar, the 1stCaliph (632-634 C.E), for preservation of standard text to meet the requirements of ever expanding global Muslim community.
Abu Bakar constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Zaid bin Thabit. All the companions assisted him and the volume thus compiled was attested by hundreds of companions. During the period of 3rd Caliph (644-656 C.E) Uthman, a large number of non-Arabs also embraced Islam, who were found to be reciting Qur’an in varied dialects. Uthman in consultation with all the companions, got the copies of Qur’an written in accordance with the dialects and calligraphic style of the Quraysh, and these copies were placed in the major cities of the Muslim Caliphate, the expert reciters (Qari) to elucidate and teach the correct recitation were also made available. These copies served as the master copies for all the Muslims and numerous copies were prepared and circulated. Two of the master copies prepared by Uthman are still available in museums at Tashkent, and Istanbul, which are identical to any copy of Qur’an found in Indonesia, China, America, Australia, Morocco, France, Nigeria or any other part of the world. Thus the contribution of Uthman is not that he compiled the Qur’an for the first time, as is generally misunderstood, he in fact united the Muslims on one standard recitation of the Qur’an. (Details are narrated in Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.709, Narrated by Anas and Hadith, 6.510 Narrated by Anas bin Malik).
The Qur’an is the central to the life of Muslims, which is recited to the new born and to the one breathing his last. The devout Muslims routinely recite part of Qur’an daily, some completing one recitation in a month. Those who can not read are content to listen quietly. Every year in the month of fasting (Ramadan), recitation of complete Qur’an is completed by the prayer leaders (Hafiz) in (taraweeh) prayers. Every Muslim has to memorize some parts or chapters of Qur’an, as it is obligatory for every Muslim to recite some verses of Qur’an, in the original Arabic (not translation), in the five daily prayers at least seventeen times (in obligatory, faradh). Besides availability of written script, Muslims feel greatly honored all over the world to memorize the Qur’an word by word as a whole; they are called-Hafiz (Protector). At any one time there are Protectors (Hufaz) among all age groups in every village, town, city and country. Hence there are millions of  Protectors (Hufaz) the world over, who are continuously being replaced by new one’s as the elders die in natural process.
This process of preservation of Qur’an in the memory and hearts of Muslims is in line with Allah’s saying: “And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?”(Qur’an;54:17); “Surely We have revealed this reminder (Qur’an); and We will surely preserve it Our self”.(Qur’an;15:9). This is how Qur’an is transferred from ‘generation to generation’ through the process of Historical Continuity (Twater) in its original form without any distortion. Hence amazingly this scripture has remained unchanged over the past fourteen hundred years.

Main Thames:

The earliest sūrahs (revealed during initial 13 years of prophethood, from 610 to 622 C.E known as Makkan period) call for strict monotheism, worship and obedience to Allah (One God), the moral and religious obedience in light of the coming Day of Judgment; the ones revealed later (10 years of Madni period from 622 to 632 C.E) generally provide directives for the creation of a social structure that will support the moral life called for by God. The Qur’an also provides detailed accounts of the joys of paradise for pious believers and the terrors of hell for sinners and disbelievers. The God who conveyed the revelations to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), through archangel Gabriel, is the same God, worshiped by Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus and all other prophets mentioned in Bible. The stern justice of God is emphasized in Qur’an along with frequent references to his mercy and compassion for the repentant believers.
The Qur’an demands absolute submission (Islam) to God: "Surely Allah’s religion is (Man’s) self surrender to Him (Islam).”(Qur’an;3:19).Both Qur’an and Traditions (Sunnah) of Prophet (peace be upon him) serve as the primary source of Islamic law (Shari’a). Qur’an is immutable in both form and content; the translations are just paraphrases to facilitate understanding of the actual scripture, in no way substitute to the original Arabic script (Appendix I). Qur’an is eternal guide for those who ponder. Allah says: “This Book (Al-Qur’an) which we have sent down to you (O Muhammad) is highly blessed, so that they may ponder upon its verses and the men of understanding may learn a lesson from it.”(Qur’an;38:29).
Some Qur’anic verses, draw the attention of humanity towards scientific phenomena, as His signs, related with Astronomy, Physics, Geography, Geology, Oceanology, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Medicine, Physiology, Embryology as well as General Science, mostly un known to humanity fourteen centuries ago, discovered recently proving miraculous nature of Qur’an as the word of God. The world's leading authority on orientalism and Middle East, Princeton Professor Philip K. Hitti, in his book ‘Islam, a Way of Life’, writes; “The Koran is dictated (by Allah). Any quotation from the Koran can be introduced with ''saith Allah”. It is now for the mankind to make their own choice; weather to follow the distorted and corrupted ancient scriptures or the Last Testament, the message of divine guidance available in its pure form- The Qur’an!  Backed up with practical demonstration of its application by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) available in the form of written and oral record of Traditions (Hadith and Sunnah).

The Traditions (Sunnah) of The Prophet (PBUH):

Qur’an, reveled through Prophet Muhammad  (peace be upon him) provides the basic guide lines, the details of its explanation, the way of living acceptable and pleasing to Allah are provided through the practical life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He received the inspiration (wahi) of two categories, Wahi Matlu, the exact words of God, Qur’an also to be recited in prayers and ‘Wahi Ghair Matlu’, not to be recited but practiced as told and demonstrated by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the matters of faith and Din. “And (O Muhammad) follow that which is inspired in thee, and forbear until Allah give judgment. And He is the Best of Judges.”(Qur’an;10:109); “… O Muhammad, tell them: "It is not possible for me to change it myself. I follow only what is revealed to me…”(Qur’an;10:15); “nor does he speak out of his own desire.” (Qur’an;53;2).
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the role model, Allah says: “You have indeed, in the life of Messenger of God, the 'Best Model' for him whose hope is in God and the Day of the Hereafter, and who engages himself much in the remembrance of God.”(Qur’an;33:21). Allah says: “O ye who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and make not vain your deeds!”(Qur’an;47:33); “We sent not a messenger, but to be obeyed, In accordance with the will of Allah…”. (Qur’an;4:64). Obedience of Messenger has been repeatedly emphasized in Qur’an; 3:31,32,132, 4:59, 5:92, 8:20, 9:71, 12;8, 24:52, 54, 33:21, 33:71, 47:33, 48:28, 64:12. The Messenger (peace be upon him) practically demonstrated to lead the life according to Qur’an, therefore Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is also referred as living Qur’an. Prophet (peace be upon him) had been entrusted with great responsibility; Allah says: “We sent those Messengers with clear signs and scriptures; and now We have sent down the reminder (Qur’an) to you (O Muhammad), so that you may explain clearly to mankind as to what was sent to them so that they may think about it”(Qur’an 16:44).
The term Hadith derives from the Arabic root hdth, meaning "to report,"  "to happen," and so, "to tell a happening," to speak of” or "to have, or give, as news." Hence the traditions are seen as narrative and record. From it comes Sunnah (literally, a "well-trodden path," i.e., taken as precedent and authority or directive), to which the faithful conform in submission to the sanction that Hadith possesses and that legalists, on that ground, can enjoin. Tradition in Islam is thus both content and constraint, Hadith as the biographical ground of law and Sunnah as the system of obligation derived from it.
The Sunnah (Traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a broader term which include his sayings, actions, approvals and disapprovals. Even if some action was performed in the presence and knowledge of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he kept quite; then it is considered as his approval, because he would not tolerate wrong. There are repeated commands in Qur’an, for the believers to offer Prayer and pay charity: “Therefore establish Salah (prayer), pay Charity (Zakah) and obey the messenger, so that you may be shown mercy.”(Qur’an;24:56). But the detailed procedure to offer the Salah (prayer) and details for payment of obligatory Charity (Zakah) are not found in Qur’an; but in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He laid down exceptions as elaborations of Qur’anic injunctions; for example it is prohibited to eat dead animals (Qur’an;5:3); Prophet (peace be upon him) specified the exception of fish and locust. Prohibition of  donkey meat is not mentioned in Qur’an, but in Sunnah it is found to be prohibited and zebra as permissible. Marriage with aunt of wife is not mentioned in Qur’an, but Sunnah prohibit it. It is normal to say Prayer Call (Adhan) for Salah, but in Sunnah it is found that there is no Adhan for Eid and some other types of prayers. The authentic (Sahih) Hadith do not conflict with Qur’an, any apparent conflict could be  due to misunderstanding by an individual, which will get reconciled if one goes in to the details and background.
The Traditions (Hadith and Sunnah) have been protected from corruption through record of continuous chain of reliable authentic narrators. It is through Hadith, that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has shaped and determined the behaviour patterns of the household of Islam by the posthumous leadership his personality exercised and will continue to exercise till eternity, Allah says in Qur’an: “It is He who has sent His Apostle with Guidance and the Religion of Truth to proclaim it over all religion: and enough is Allah for a Witness.”(Qur’an;48:28).
While the Qur’an was being received, there had been reluctance and misgiving about recording the words and acts of the Prophet, lest they be confused with the uniquely constituted contents of the divine scripture. At times Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited some thing, which was later permitted; like initially women were prohibited to visit graves, as they used to make a lot of hue and cry but with more maturity they were later allowed. Although there was no formal system of recording of Hadith like the one followed for Qur’an, but there is also no authentic prohibition: Abu Saed Khidhri was reportedly prohibited by the Prophet (peace be upon him) to write Hadith along with Qur’an, to keep Qur’an pure. This incidence appears to have been quoted out of context, because some companions had been writing the sayings of Prophet (peace be upon him) in his lifetime with his permission; like Abdullah bin Umro bin Al As, Abu Rafi, Anas Bin Malik, Abu Hurairah; who had kept written record of Hadith in the form of many books, from which he used to teach many of his pupils. Humam bin Minbah being one of them, the book named after him; translated by Dr.Hamid Ullah.
The 1st Caliph Abu Bakar wrote 500 Traditions on request of his daughter Aysha, but washed them fearing that some of them which he had listened from others might not be accurately narrated, he did not want to be accused for any doubtful Hadith. Aysha (the mother of believers) herself a great scholar, used to refer Traditions in her correspondence on theological matters.
Umar, the 2nd Caliph discussed the writing of Traditions but discarded due to the fear, people mixing it up with or relegating Qur’an as done by the Jews and Christians with their scriptures. The 3rd Caliph Ali is reported to have asked the people to bring paper (costing one Dinar), then he dictated the Traditions. This is sufficient to establish that there were no prohibitions of writing of Traditions, which were transferred from father to son and from teacher to the pupils. The huge record of written letters and instructions of Prophet (peace be upon him) has been preserved in the books of history. The oldest collection of Hadith ‘Sahifa Hamam bin Manba through Abi Hurairah’ have been researched and authenticated by Dr.Hamidullah, has now been published.

The Science of Attestation of Traditions (Sunnah):

A tradition had to be sustained by an expert "The Science of Attestation” be able to satisfy rigorous formal criteria of their connection with the person of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through his "companions," by an unbroken sequence of "reportage". This science became so meticulous that there was no possibility of any error. Among the pioneers in Hadith in second century Hijra were historian Ibn Ishaq (died AH 150/C.E 767) and Malik ibn Anas, (died AH 179/C.E 795): The most revered of all traditionalists was Muhammad ibn Isma'il al- Bukhari (AH 194-256 /C.E 810-870 ), His Sahih occupied 16 years of editorial pains and scrutiny. He collected 300,000 Ahadith, and he memorized 200,000 of which some were unreliable. He included approximately 7,275 traditions with full isnad. Allowing for repetitions, the net total was 2,230, for which there was no doubt about their authenticity. He arranged the whole into 97 books and 3,450 chapters or topics, repeating the traditions that bore on several themes.
The others compilers of Hadith  are Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj (AH 202-261/C.E 817-875), Abu Da`ud al-Sijistani (AH 202-275/C.E 817-889), Abu 'Isa Muhammad at- Tirmidhi (died AH 279/C.E 892), Abu' Abd ar-Rahman an-Nasa’i (AH 216-303 /C.E 830-915]) and Abu 'Abdallah ibn Maja (AH 210-273/C.E 824-886). Nor did they oust the earlier collection of Malik ibn Anas, but they formed the sources of later popular editions, intended to conflate material for didactic purposes. One such was the work of Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi (died AH 516/C.E 1122) called Masabih as-Sunnah ("The Lamps of the Sunnah"). Commentaries on all these classical musannafat, or compilations, were many, and important in education and piety. The Shi’a collection of Traditions was prepared by Abu Ja'far Muhammad al-Qulini (died AH 328/C.E 939) with the tilte of  Kafi fi 'Ilm ad-Din (All You Need About the Science of Religious Practice).
There are special Ahadith  attributed to Allah, called Hadith Qudsi, in which the Prophet says, “Allah says so and so”. The meaning of these Hadith was revealed to the Prophet but he put them in his own words, unlike the Qur’an which is the direct word of Almighty Allah and the Prophet conveyed it exactly as it was revealed to him.  To quote one as an example, the Prophet says the Allah says: “I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate.  Thus he who does an action for someone else's sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.”(Hadith Qudsi 5). The status of Hadith Qudsi is next to Qur’an but they can not be recited in prayer (salah). Thus along with Qur’an, the Traditions (Hadith &Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are the source of guidance for the humanity for ever. After Qur’an the authenticity of Hadith literature is doubtless, compared to any religious scripture, including the Bible, where even the names of authors are not known what to talk of the chain of transmission.

Contribution of Islamic Civilization for Humanity:

Besides acquiring the religious knowledge through study of Qur’an and Traditions (Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the pursuit of other branches of knowledge is also considered necessary for good living and better understanding of the message of Islam. Qur’an does not draw any dividing line between the spiritual and the worldly concerns of life but, rather, regards them as different aspects of one and the same reality. In many of its  verses, the Qur’an calls upon the believer to observe all nature and to discern God’s creative activity (Qura’n;10:5, 2:164, 30:46, 40:57, 50:7 & many more) in its manifold phenomena and ‘laws’ , as well as to mediate upon the lessons of history (Qura’n;22:46,27:69,29:20, 30:9) with a view to gaining a deeper insight  into man’s motivations and the innermost sprigs of his behaviour; and thus, the Qur’an itself is characterized as addressed to ‘those who think’ (Qura’n;47:24, 38:29). The contributions in the advancement of knowledge by the Islamic scholars, scientists and philosophers are enormous, which have been summed up in Encyclopedia Britannica:- 
“The madrasahs (shools) generally offered instruction in both the religious sciences and other branches of knowledge. The contribution of these institutions to the advancement of knowledge was vast. Muslim scholars calculated the angle of the ecliptic; measured the size of the Earth; calculated the precession of the equinoxes; explained, in the field of optics and physics, such phenomena as refraction of light, gravity, capillary action, and twilight; and developed observatories for the empirical study of heavenly bodies. They made advances in the uses of drugs, herbs, and foods for medication; established hospitals with a system of interns and externs; discovered causes of certain diseases and developed correct diagnoses of them; proposed new concepts of hygiene; made use of anesthetics in surgery with newly innovated surgical tools; and introduced the science of dissection in anatomy. They furthered the scientific breeding of horses and cattle; found new ways of grafting to produce new types of flowers and fruits; introduced new concepts of irrigation, fertilization, and soil cultivation; and improved upon the science of navigation. In the area of chemistry, Muslim scholarship led to the discovery of such substances as potash, alcohol, nitrate of silver, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and mercury chloride. It also developed to a high degree of perfection the arts of textiles, ceramics, and metallurgy.”
While Muslims were excelling in the field of knowledge and learning of science and technology, the conditions of Christendom at this period was deplorable. Under Constantine and his orthodox successors the Aesclepions were closed for ever, the public libraries established by liberality of the pagan emperors were dispersed or destroyed. Learning was branded as magic and punished as treason, philosophy and science were exterminated. The ecclesiastical hatred against human learning had found expression in the patristic maxims; “Ignorance is the mother of devotion” and Pope Gregory the Great  the founder of the doctrine of ‘supremacy of religious authority’; gave effect to this obscurantist dogma by expelling from Rome all scientific studies and burning the Palatine Library founded by Augustus Caesar. He forbade the study of ancient writers of Greece and Rome. He introduced and sanctified the mythological Christianity which continued for centuries as the predominating creed of Europe with its worship of relics and the remains of saints. Science and literature were placed under the ban by orthodox Christianity and they succeeded in emancipating themselves only when Free Thought had broken down the barriers raised by orthodoxy against the progress of the human mind.

The influence of Islamic learning on the West has been phenomenal; an extract from Encyclopedia Britannica is an eye opener for those questioning the backwardness of Islamic civilization: “The decline of Muslim scholarship coincided with the early phases of the European intellectual awakening that these translations were partly instrumental in bringing about.  The translation into Latin of most Islamic works during the 12th and 13th centuries had a great impact upon the European Renaissance. As Islam was declining in scholarship and Europe was absorbing the fruits of Islam's centuries of creative productivity, signs of Latin Christian awakening were evident throughout the European continent. The 12th century was one of intensified traffic of Muslim learning into the Western world through many hundreds of translations of Muslim works, which helped Europe seize the initiative from Islam when political conditions in Islam brought about a decline in Muslim scholarship. By 1300 C.E when all that was worthwhile in Muslim scientific, philosophical, and social learning had been transmitted to European schoolmen through Latin translations, European scholars stood once again on the solid ground of Hellenistic thought, enriched or modified through Muslim and Byzantine efforts.” It continues: “Most of the important Greek scientific texts were preserved in Arabic translations. Although the Muslims did not alter the foundations of Greek science, they made several important contributions within its general framework. When interest in Greek learning revived in Western Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, scholars turned to Islamic Spain for the scientific texts. A spate of translations resulted in the revival of Greek science in the West and coincided with the rise of the universities. Working within a predominantly Greek framework, scientists of the late Middle Ages reached high levels of sophistication and prepared the ground for the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.” According to Will Durant, the Western scholar, “For five centuries, from 700 to 1200 (C.E), Islam led the world in power, order and extent of government, in refinement of manners, scholarship and philosophy”. The Muslims can restore and regain their lost glory through adhering to the teachings of Islam and its true spirit, reviving the moral values and culture of learning, scholarship, tolerance and moderation. 


The Last Testament – Quran

Qur’an is the word of God, directly revealed to the last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) during 23 years of his Apostolic mission [610-632 C.E]. It was instantly preserved by putting in to writing and memorization by his companions. God says:
“Surely this is a Glorious Qur’an, inscribed on an Imperishable Tablet.”(Qur’an;85:21-22). 
God has taken responsibility to guard it against corruption:
“Surely We have revealed the reminder (Qur’an) and We will most certainly guard it (from corruption).”(Qur’an;15:9).
During all ages, millions of Muslim of all age groups memorize Qur’an comprising over 6000 verses; a unique distinction which makes Qur’an, the only book in human history to have been continuously preserved through this method along with the written form. No other scripture or book can rival this claim. Hence, since its revelation the Qur’an is being transferred in its original revealed form, continuously (twatar) from generation to generation.
Revealed in Arabic Language and Translations:
The Qur’an was revealed in Arabic, the language of Prophet, peace be upon him (and his clan Quraish of Makka). The translation (Tarjama) of the Qur’an means the expression of the meaning of its text in a language different from the language of the Qur’an, for understanding by those not familiar with Qur’anic Arabic. It is customary to quote the original Arabic Qur’anic text (ayah, verses) along with the translation, however this require special handling due to reverence of the sacred text, hence in this book for the convenience of handling by all categories of the readers, only the translation is given, which should also be handled with due respect. It is more appropriate for the reader to also consult the original Arabic Qur’an. The English translations by Abdullah Yousaf Ali, M.Pickthall, Muhammad Asad and F.Malik are popular. There is agreement among Muslim scholars that it is humanly impossible to transfer the meanings of original Qur’an word by word in an identical mode into another language. This is due to several reasons: firstly the Qur’an itself is a miracle and cannot be imitated by man. As a consequence of this,the translation of Qur’an is not considered as Qur’an. The translations of the Qur’an; e.g. into English, French, German and Urdu, etc, in principle are regarded as paraphrases. These translations can not be used in place of original Arabic Qur’an for ritual purposes. Secondly the words of different languages do not express all the shades of meanings of their original Arabic word, though they may express specific concepts. Hence narrowing down the meaning of the Qur’an to specific concepts in a foreign language would mean missing out other important dimensions. While reading the translations of Qur’an these aspects must always be kept in view.
The example of verse: “wa- huwa ‘alladhe khalaqa as- samaawaat wa- al- ‘ard. fe sittah ayyaam..” (Qur’an;11:7) is considered here.
The word ayyaam in Arabic means; ‘days’ or ‘long periods’ or ‘eons’ or ‘epoch’. The four translations being given here differ in their understanding:
“And it is He who has created the heavens and the earth in six eons” (M.Asad); “He is the One Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods” (F.Malik)
“And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days” (Pickthall); “He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days” (Yousaf Ali).
The translation of ayyaam as ‘eons’ appears more scientific and accurate. Hence if some contradictions appear, it is due to the limitations of translation, not of Qur’an.
Reference Method:
The Qur’an comprises 114 chapters, called Surahs, of very unequal length and eachSurah comprises number of verses. The translation of references from Qur’an are mostly given within brackets   “xyz” followed by reference of Surah and Ayah in bracket i.e: “Praise be to Allah the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds.”(Qura’n;1:2). It implies that the translation is from Surah (chapter) Number 1 and verse number 2 of the same Surah.
Names of Chapters:
The names of Chapters (Surahs) can be found from the index. In this case the name of Surah Number 1 as given in Surah Index is Al-Fatiha meaning ‘The Opening’. The names of Chapters (Surahs) in Qur’an, in most of the cases have no special relation to the subject of the Surah but has been used merely as a symbol to distinguish it from other Surahs. The  name comprise of a word used some where in the Surah. Taking example of 2nd Surah AL-BAQARAH (the Cow), which has been so named from the story of the Cow occurring in this Surah (verse number 67-73). Although this Surah is an invitation to the Divine Guidance and all the stories, incidents etc. revolve round this central theme. As this Surah has particularly been addressed to the Jews, many historical events have been cited from their own traditions to admonish and advise them that their own good lies in accepting the Guidance revealed to the Holy Prophet. It has not, however, been used as a title to indicate the subject of the Surah. It will, therefore, be as wrong to translate the name Al-Baqarah into “The Cow” or “The Heifer” as to translate any English name, say Baker, Rice, Wolf etc., into their equivalents in other languages or vice versa, because this would imply that the Surah dealt with the subject of “The Cow”. Many more chapters (Surahs) of the Qur’an have been named in the same way because no comprehensive words exist in Arabic (in spite of its richness) to denote the wide scope of the subject discussed in them. As a matter of fact all human languages suffer from the same limitation. However in some cases the name of Chapters (Surahs) indicate the subject matter i.e. the first Surah Al-Fatihah, which means ‘that which opens a subject or a book or any other thing’ or in other words, Al-Fatihah is a sort of ‘Preface’. Similarly Surah ‘Al Yousaf’ (Joseph)Surah number 12, is related with the story of Prophet Joseph (PBHH).
This is an endeavour to assist the reader in learning and understanding of the message of Quran.