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Distinctive Features of the Qur'an

  • In form two, we learnt that Allah (SWT) revealed various scriptures to different generations.
  • We also learnt the reasons why humankind needed divine guidance.
  • You will realise that the main purpose of all the revealed scriptures was to guide humankind to the path of Allah (SWT).
  • It is important to note that all the revealed scriptures have certain similar characteristics.
  • Among the characteristics of revealed scriptures such as Taurat, Zabur, suhuf, Injil and Qur’an are as follows:
    • They were revealed by Allah (SWT).
    • They teach Tawheed (Monotheism).
    • They were sent to specific umma (nations) apart from the Qur’an which was sent to the entire humankind.
    • They guide humankind on good morals and condemn immoral practices.
    • Their message is simple, clear and straight forward.
    • They were revealed through the Prophets.
  • In this chapter, we are going to study the unique and distinctive features of the Qur’an that distinguish it from the revealed scriptures we have mentioned earlier.
    • The Qur’an is the speech of Allah (SWT) revealed in its precise meaning and wording.
    • It was revealed for the entire Alamin (mankind, jinns and other creations).
    • It has unique themes that have been integrated in different surahs (chapters).
    • The literal style of the Qur’an is different from other books.
    • It challenges humankind to come up with a book equal to the Qur’an.
  • Allah (SWT) has vowed to protect the Qur’an from any form of corruption or human interference. Allah (SWT) says, “We have, without doubt, send down the message; And we will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” [Q15:9]

The Structure and Divisions of the Qur'an

  • The word structure or division in reference to the Qur’an is the arrangement of the content of the Qur’an in a systematic manner to form a whole.
  • The Quran has its unique structure and division as follows:


  • The word Aya (plural ayat) is an Arabic word which linguistically has several meanings as derived from its use in the Qur’an.
  • Among these meaning include the following:
    • A sign or an indication.
      Allah (SWT) says, “And their prophet said to them (children of Israil), the sign (‘ayah) if his Kingdom is that there shall come to you a wooden box...” [Q 2:248]
    • A lesson or an admonition to a group of people.
      Allah (SWT) says, “In this there is a lesson (‘ayah) for those who give thought.” [Q 16:11]
    • A verse or a sentence.
      Allah (SWT), “And when We change a verse in the Qur’an in place of another-and Allah knows best what he sends down-they say, ‘You (O Muhammad) are nothing but a forger.’ Nay, (but) most of them are ignorant.” [Q 16:101]
  • Technically it refers to the shortest division of the Qur'anic text, meaning, a phrase or sentence but most commonly referred to as ‘verse.’
  • Ayat vary in length.
  • Some are short, consisting of only a few letters e.g. Alif Lam Meem, Ha Meem. Others are medium while others are long.
  • During the early period of revelation (Makkan period) the Ayat were short and became longer as the revelation progressed in the Madinan phase.
  • The longest ayat is found in Sura al Baqara [Q 2:282] and contains 128 words.
  • There are also short verses in the Qur’an comprising of just few words or letters (abbreviated).
  • Let us look at the short and abbreviated verses.

Abbreviated verses in the Qur’an

  • The Arabic language, which is the original language of the Holy Qur’an, has twenty nine alphabets.
  • Coincidentally, there are twenty nine surahs (chapters) that start with abbreviations.
  • It is only Allah who knows the translation and objectives of these abbreviated ayat.
  • It is only sura tul Shura (Q 42) that has two sets of abbreviations at the beginning.
  • There are fourteen letters that are used in combinations of one, two, three, four and five letter words to form the abbreviated ayat.
  • These letters are as follows: ي ه ن م ل ك ق ع ط ص س ر ح ا
  • The table below shows the abbreviated Ayat in their various combinations:

     No. of letters  Abbreviation  Verse/sound  Surah
     One  ص  Saad  Saad (Q.38)
       ق  Qaaf  Qaaf (Q.50)
       ن  Nuun  Al Qalam (Q.68)
     Two  طه  Twaa Haa  Twaa Haa (Q.20)
       طس  Twaa Siin  An Naml (Q.27)
       ي س  Yaa Siin  Yaa Siin (Q.36)
       حم  Haa Miim  Al Ghafir(Q.40), Fussilat (Q.41), Shura (Q.42), Zukhruf (Q.43), Dukhan (Q.44), Jathiya (Q.45) and Ahqaf (Q.46)
     Three  ال م  Aliif Laam Miim  Al Baqara (Q.2), Al Imran (Q.3), Al Qasas (Q.29), Rum (Q.30), Luqman (Q.31) and Sajda (Q.32)
       ال ر  Aliif Laam Raa  Yunus (Q.10), Hud (Q.11), Yusuf (Q.12), Ibrahim (Q.14), and Al Hijr (Q.15)
       ط سم  Twaa Siin Miim  Al Shu’ara (Q.26) and Al Qasas (Q.28)
     Four  صماَ  Aliif Laam Miim Saad  A’raf (Q.7)
        رماَ  Aliif Laam Miim Raa  Ra’d (Q.13)
     Five  كه ي عص  Kaaf Haa Yaa Ain Saad  Maryam (Q.19)
     Two sets  حم ع سق  Haa Miim Ain Siin Qaaf  Shura (Q.42)


  • The word Sura literally means an enclosure or fence such as the wall around a building.
  • Technically, it refers the arrangement of the Qur’anic text into specific verses chapters.
  • A surah consists of several verses.
  • The Holy Qur'an has a total of 114 suras.
  • These surahs vary in length the shortest consisting of four ayat while the longest has 286 ayat (Suratul Baqara).
  • Surahs in the Qur’an are considered to fall into four main categories.
  • These categories are as follows:

a) Attiwal

  • comprising of the long suras.
  • These surahs include:
    • Sura Al Baqara (286 verses)
    • Sura Al Imran (200 verses)
    • Sura An Nisaa (176 verses)
    • Sura Al Maida (120 verses)
    • Sura Al An’am (161 verses)
    • Sura Al Aaraaf (206 verses)
    • Sural Attawba (129 verses)


b) Al mi’un

  • suras comprising of about 100 Ayat in length or a little more or less.
  • These surahs include the following:
    • Sura Al Anfaal (75 verses)
    • Sura al Yunus (

c) Al-Mathani

  • (the repeated) suras which are suras from suratul Yasin [Q 36] to sura al Hujura [Q 49].

d) Al-Mufassalaat

  • or the Surahs of al-Mufassal are the surahs starting from Surah no. 50 till the end of the Qur’an, i.e. Surah no. 111.


  • Juz’u is an Arabic word which literally means part or portion.
  • The Holy Qur’an consists of thirty Juz’us (portions) of approximately equal length.
  • Each Juz’u is further subdivided into equal portions called Ahzab.
  • Each Hizb (singular for Ahzab) is in turn subdivided into four quarters; making eight quarters per Juz’u.
  • Below is a table which shows where each juz’u starts and ends.
  • However, the translation of Abdullah Yusuf Ali has slight differences on where some of the surahs begin and end.

     1  Alif Lam Miim  Al Fatiha 1 – Al Baqarah 141 (1:1-2:141)
     2  Sayaqul  Al Baqarah 142 - Al Baqarah 252 (2:142-2:252)
     3  Tilka -r-rusul  Al Baqarah 253 - Al Imran 92 (2:253-3:91)
     4  Lan tanaalu  Al Imran 92 - An Nisaa 23 (3:92-4:23)
     5  W-al-muḥṣanat  An Nisaa 24 - An Nisaa 147 (4:24-4:147)
     6  La yuhibbu-llah  An Nisaa 148 - Al Ma’idah 81 (1:118-5:82)
     7  Wa ʾidha samiʿu  Al Ma’idah 83 - Al An’am 110 (1:83-6:110)
     8  Wa law ʾannana  Al An’am 111 - Al A’raf 87 (6:111-7:87)
     9  Qal al-malaʾ  Al A’raf 88 - Al Anfal 40 (7:88-8:40)
     10  W-aʿlamu  Al Anfal 41 - At Tauba 92 (8:41-9:93)
     11  Waʾtadhiruna  At Tauba 93 - Hud 5 (9:94-11:5)
     12  Wa ma min dabbah  Hud 6 - Yusuf 52 (11:6-12:52)
     13  Wa ma ʾubarriʾu  Yusuf 53 – Al Hijr 1 (12:53-15:1)
     14  Rubbamaa  Al Hijr 2 – An Nahl 128 (15:1-16:128)
     15  Subḥana –lladhi  Al Isra (or Bani Isra’il) 1 - Al Kahf 74 (17:1-18:74)
     16  Qala ʾa-lam  Al Kahf 75 – Ta Ha 135 (18:75-20:135)
     17  Aqtaraba li-n-nas  Al Anbiyaa 1 - Al Hajj 78 (21:1-22:78)
     18  Qad ʾaflaḥa  Al Muminum 1 - Al Furqan 20 (23:1-25:20)
     19  Wa-qala -lladhina la yarjuna  Al Furqan 21 - An Naml 55 (25:21-27:59)
     20  Amman khalaq  An Naml 60 - Al Ankabut 45 (27:56-29:44)
     21  Utluma  Al Ankabut 45 - Al Azhab 30 (29:46-33:30)
     22  Wa-man yaqnut  Al Ankabut 46 - Al Azhab 30 (29:46-33:21)
     23  Wa-ma liya  Ya Sin 22 - Az Zumar 31 (36:28-39:31)
    24  Fa-man ʾaẓlamu  Az Zumar 32 - Fussilat 46 (39:32-41:46)
     25  Ilaihi yuraddu  Fussilat 47 - Al Jathiya 37 (41:47-45:37)
     26  Ḥaʾ Mim  Al Ahqaf 1 - Az Zariyat 30 (46:1-51:30)
     27  Qāla fa-ma khatbukum  Az Zariyat 31 - Al Hadid 29 (51:31-57:29)
     28  Qad samiʿa –llāhu  Al Mujadila 1 – At Tahrim 12 (58:1-66:12)
     29  Tabāraka –lladhi  Al Mulk 1 - Al Mursalat 50 (67:1-77:50)
     30  Amma yatasāʾalūna  An Nabaa 1 - An Nas 6 (78:1-114:6)


  • Ruk’u in relation to the Qur’an refers to divisions within the longer surahs to forms sections containing a number of verses dealing with one subject.
  • These sections can be easily identified in the Qura’nic text since they have an Arabic symbol )ع( at the end of the last verse.)


  • The Qur’an is divided into seven portions containing several surahs.
  • Each portion is equivalent to 1/7 of the entire Quran.
  • These portions are referred to as Manzil.
  • This division makes the Qur’an to be recited within seven days.
  • The following table shows the division of the Qur’an into Manzil.

     First  Sura al Fatiha – Sura al Nisa’
     Second  Sura al Maida – Sura al Tawba
     Third  Sura al Yunus– Sura al Nahl
     Fourth  Sura al Isra’ – Sura al Furqan
     Fifth  Sura al Shu’ara’ – Sura al Yasin
     Sixth  Sura al Saffat- – Sura al Hujurat
     Seventh  Sura al Qaf – Sura al Nas

The Makkan and the Madinan Surahs

  • The mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began in Makka with a small group of followers that later grew so big especially after migration to Madina (Hijra).
  • During the twenty three years of his prophethood, the Qur’an was gradually revealed to explain the incidences that were taking place and also give details of previous events.
  • The Prophet (PBUH) lived in Makka for the first thirteen years of his Prophethood, and later, migrated and spent the last ten years of his life and mission in Madina.
  • During these two phases of his life, the revelation of the Qur’an was on going.
  • The surahs in the Holy Qur’an have been divided into two on the basis of where the surahs were first revealed, they were named after the cities of Makkah and Medina respectively.
  • These surahs bear some historical
  • facts behind their revelation and because of this they differ in their content, style and syntax.
  • The surahs are, therefore, classified as either, Makkan or Madinan.

Makkan Surahs

  • Makkan Surahs were revealed before the migration of the Prophet (PBUH) and his followers to Madina (that is before Hijra).
  • The Prophet was either in Makkah or its vicinity or was on his way to Madina.
  • Makkan Surahs summarise events that took place from the beginning of revelation till the time the when the Prophet (PBUH) migrated to Madina.
  • They lay emphasis on various themes.

Themes of Makkan Surahs

  • Absolute unity of Allah (SWT). They teach about Tawhid (Islamic monotheism) and Allah as the Lord, Creator and Sustainer of everything in the world. They affirm the Names and Attributes of Allah (SWT) and denounce any false gods and all forms of shirk.
  • The establishment of sound morals. They direct the believers on how to shun evil in their lives by sounding warnings to refrain from evil. Such evils, of the Jahiliya period, included; mistreatment of the female infants, misappropriation of the orphan’s property, gambling, among others.
  • Establishment of sound belief (Aqeeda). These surahs lay emphasis on the belief in the pillars of Iman i.e. Belief in Prophethood, Angels, previously revealed books and the Day of Judgement.
  • They reveal Allah (SWT’s) power. Most verses discuss about Allah (SWT’s) control of the universe as a proof to mankind that He is the Creator of the world.
  • They give a detailed description of Jannat (paradise) in order to attract humankind towards the performance of good deeds. They also describe Jahannam (hellfire) and its torments so as to discourage humankind from evil doing.
  • They explain about Qiyama (The Day of Reckoning) when Allah (SWT) will fulfil His promise of bringing man’s actions and deeds to account.
  • They narrate major historical events and stories of previous generations including the trials that the previous prophets went through. These past events offer important lessons to the current generation since they develop Taqwa (fear of Allah) and warn those who reject faith.

Characteristics of Makkan Surahs

  • Most of the Surahs are short and rhythmic. This was because Islam was in its early stages of introduction and there was need to attract the attention of the listeners who were opposed to the call of Islam.
  • Allah (SWT) uses the word ‘Kalla’, which means ‘Nay.’ This word occurs fifteen times and only in the last half of the Qur’an.
  • Surahs which begin with Muqatt`aat (disjointed) letters are Makkan except surah al Baqara and Al- Imraan.
  • They contain verses that open with the phrase; ‘ea ayuha Nas’, which means; ‘O Mankind’, except Sura an Nisa and Surah al Hajj.
  • They have verses with sijda at-tilawa (prostration for recitation) with an exception of sura al Imran and Sura al Hajj which are Madinan.
  • They use strong warnings and frequent oaths.

Madinan Surahs

  • These are the Surahs which were revealed after Hijra, that is, when the Prophet (PBUH) had migrated with his followers to Madina.
  • This was the time when the Makkan Muslims and their Madinan counterparts were united under the Muslim Ummah and Nation.
  • The Prophet (hBUH’s) mission in Madina was to settle down all the citizens by introducing a number of social, economic and political reforms.
  • The Prophet (PBUH), therefore, established a consolidated Islamic state which incorporated the Muhajirun, Aws, Khazraj, Christians, Jews and the Munafiqun.
  • The themes in Madinan Surahs explain events and directions within the last ten years of the Prophet’s life from his arrival in Madina upto the time he passed away in 632 C.E. 

Themes of Madinan Surahs

  • They explain in details on how to conduct the acts of worship such as the Swalat, Zakat, Saum and Hajj.
  • They establish systematic laws governing relationships at individual, society and international levels. For example; laws on marriage, divorce, inheritance and jihad.
  • Highlight on the rules that regulate human conduct in order to bring harmony to all the citizens of Madina regardless of their religious, social economic and political background.
  • They give guidelines on the Hudud punishment of various crimes.
  • They describe the evil plots of the hypocrites.

Characteristics of Madinan Surahs

  • Madinan Surahs and verses are long because they give details on the Shariah.
  • They contain phrases addressing the Jews and Christians.
  • They mention punishments for crimes under Hudud law. For example, the punishment for Zinaa is prescribed in surah al Nur i.e. flogging a hundred stripes.
  • Surah which address believers as ‘ea ayuha lladhina `amanoo’ (O you who believe!)
  • Any surah that mentions the hypocrite is Madina.

Language and Style of the Qur'an

  • We have earlier learnt that the Quran was verbally revealed for a period of 23 yrs when prophet Mohamed was 40 yrs, and concluded at the year of his death.
  • The language of the revelation of the Quran to prophet Mohamed through Angel Jibril was in classical Arabic.
  • Lets now look at the language of the Quran in details.

Language of the Qur’an

  • The Qur’an was revealed in Arabic language.
  • Allah (SWT) says,
    Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an in order that you may understand.” [Q 16:103]
  • However, the language used in the Qur’an is completely different from the ordinary linguistics.
  • Allah revealed the Qur’an in Arabic for various reasons. We are going to look at some of these reasons.

Reasons why the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic

Read Qur’an [13:37];[16:103]; [18:1–2];[42:70];[54:7]

  • Humankind use language as a medium of communication.
  • The language that humankind uses for communications is a gift from Allah (SWT).
  • Allah (SWT) revealed the Holy Qur’an to mankind in order to communicate fully about his commandments and to clearly spell out his commands and prohibitions.
  • Allah (SWT) revealed it to the Prophet (PBUH) in Arabic language because of the following reasons:
    • It is the way of Allah (SWT) to always reveal His guidance in the native language of His Messenger and the nation or people or audience to whom the Prophet is initially sent to give glad tidings and warning. Allah says:
      Had We sent this as A Qur’an (in a language) other than Arabic, they would have said: “Why are not its verses explain in detail? And (a Messenger) an Arab?” Say: “It is a guide and a healing to those who believe, and for those who believe not, there is deafness in their ears, and it is blindness in their (eyes): They are (as it were) being called from a place far distance!” [Q 41:44]
    • The last and final messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) unto whom the Qur’an was revealed, was an Arab. Since Arabic was his mother tongue it made it easy for him to understand and interpret the message of Allah. Allah (SWT) says, “We have made the Qur'an easy in your language so that they may take heed it.” [Q 44:58]
    • Arabic is a living language that is spoken by so many people throughout the world. Other ancient languages of religious scriptures such as Aramaic, Ancient Greek, Hebrew and others are dead languages which are neither used in written correspondences nor spoken in conversations and discussions. This makes such languages easy to change or alter words in their scriptures. Arabic language of the Qur’an cannot be easily manipulated by making any changes in the Qur’an without people realising it.
    • Arabic is a very rich language compared to other languages. Most of its vocabulary has several meanings. Each vocabulary of Arabic language has deep meaning and would sometimes need very few words or even sentences to explain its meaning. On the other hand, a lot of information can be conveyed using very few words. The Qur’an has some terms that are used to imply several meanings, for example the term “mountain” in Suratul Nur refers to several things. There are also some words in the Qur’an that have same meaning and same pronunciation but carry different meaning depending on the context, for example the word Makara in Sura Al-Imran (Q3:54). This Arabic term has both a bad and a good meaning. It has been used to apply both to plotting with an evil purpose and planning with a good purpose. Allah (SWT) says, “We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an so you people may understand.” [Q 12:2]
    • It was to challenge the Arabs; especially the Quraish, who boasted of their mastery of the Arabic language. The Quraish were proud of their fluency, efficiency and eloquence in the Arabic language and Arabic literature. They also boasted of their oratory skills. They composed poems and felt that nobody would match them in their use of the Arabic language and literature. Allah (SWT) revealed the Qur’an in Arabic and proved to them that the Language of the Qur’an was superior.

Style of the Qur’an.

  • One important thing we need to remember is that the Holy Qur’an is divine revelation from Allah (SWT) as guidance to humankind.
  • Although it is expressed verbally and in written form, it should not in any way be misconstrued as works of any human being like poetry or literature.
  • Its style is unique and surpasses all other forms of literature.
  • The very best and eloquent Arabs at the time of the Prophet (PBUH) were unable to come up with anything in the like of the Qur’an.
  • The Qur’an has a unique style in both its language and presentation.
  • Among the unique features in the style of the Qur’an include the following:
    • Each surah has a title. The title of a related surah is derived from among the following:
      • A word or name mentioned (found) within the surah e.g Al-Maida, Al Baqara, Qiyama, etc.
      • The first word of a surah after Basmallah e.g. Sura Ash-Shams, At-Tin, Al-Asr etc.
      • Related to an event narrated (Qasas) in the surah e.g. surat-Yunus, Al –Baqara, An-Nahl.
      • Themes found in that particular surah e.g. Hujurat, An-Nisai, AzZumara.
    • All Surahs begin with Basmallah (Bismilahi Rahman Raheem) except surah Al- Bara’ah or At-Tawba. It is believed that Sura At-Tawba is a continuation of previous surah, An-Anfal. Another reason is that the surah contains stern commandment against the idolaters and hypocrites.
    • A surah may have several themes. For example surah An-Nisai talks about Unity of Mankind, marriage and women’s rights, kindness, charity, taqwa, justice to women and orphans property, unlawful earnings among other themes.
    • There are multi-thematic verses. A verse may carry several themes, for example; Q 2:284 reveals Allah’s dominion; accountability; forgiveness and punishment; qadar (Allah’s power) and The Knower of everything among others.
    • Surahs are not necessarily arranged to follow the actual order of revelation. For example the first surah to be revealed was Alaq (its first 5 verses), then Mudathir (its first 7 verses) yet Suratul-Fatiha is the opening chapter of the Qur’an.
    • Surahs are varied in length. The longest surah is Al-Baqara with 286 verses while the shortest surah is Al-Kauthar with only 3 verses.
    • The Qur’an uses all the tenses i.e. present, past and future. Allah (SWT) addresses humankind using all the different tenses. The knowledge about the hereafter, past generations and the present correlated to pass its theme.
    • There are more than 200 passages in the Holy Qur’an which begin with the word “Qul”, an Arabic word meaning, “Say”. This word is Allah (SWT’s) instruction to the Holy Prophet to address the words (message) that follow this introduction. This kind of address to the audience appears only in particular situations. Such situations were; when replying to a question that had been raised, or as an assertion of a matter of belief or Allah’s (SWT) announcement of a legal verdict.
    • It uses both plural and singular forms. Allah (SWT) uses the plural form ‘we’ to reveal His Might to humankind. For example Allah (SWT) says, “And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” [50:16]
    • The language of the Qur’an uses similes (amthal) and metaphors to bring greater clarity and insight when explaining things to mankind. For example shows the greatness of the Qur’an when He relates that: “Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of ALLAH Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.
    • The Qur’an is not poetry but uses a particular style with combined rhythm and prose. This style is referred to as Saj’. Some of its verses are short and end with the same format while others are long.
    • It contains verses that are entirely clear and plain and requires no explanation (muhkamaat) while others are not entirely clear or having more than one meaning or not completely agreed upon, but open to two or more interpretations (mutashabihaat).
    • Some verses of the Qur’an contain general message for the entire humankind, while others give specific and restricted guidance either to the Prophet (PBUH), a given group of people
    • There are some narratives (Qasas) and stories of the Prophets of Allah (SWT), past people and events. For example narratives of Prophets such as Nuh (AS), Musa, Isa or pious people like Imran, Luqman, Mariam As-habul Kahf (companions of the cave) and ahu’qarnain. There are also references that took place during the time of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) which include, Battle of Badr, Battle of Uhud and Battle of Khandaq and Isra wal Miiraj (the Prophets journey to Jerusalem and his ascension to heaven).
    • Other surahs begin with alphabets, whose meaning is only known to Allah (SWT). Examples of such surahs are Sura Al Baqara, Sura Al Yasin, and Sura Al Nun among others.
    • Several rhetoric questions are posed for the purpose of persuading, yet no replies are expected from the questions. For example, Allah (SWT) says, “Is there any Reward for Good - other than Good?” [Q11:60]
    • There are some non-Arabic words in the Qur’an. The use of these words does not in any way suggest deficiency in Arabic language but were necessitated by the place and asbab ulnuzul (reason for revelation).
    • The table below shows some examples of non Arabic words in the Qur’an.

       Word in the Qur’an  Meaning in English  Ayat in the Qur’an  Language
       Qistas  Justice  17:35  Greek
       Sijjil  Clay  15:74  Persian
       Ghass.aq  Fluid drank in Hell  78:25  Turkish
       Tur  Mountain  2:63  Syriac
       Kifl  Portion (of mercy)  57:28  Abbysinian
       Istabrak  Heavy  18:31  Persian
       Sundus  Fine clothing  18:31  Greek
       Mishkat  Niche  24:35  Ethiopian
       Abaariq  Beakers  56:18  Persian
       Araik  Thrones  83:23  Abbysinian
       Hudna  Repent  7:156  Jewish

Miraculous Nature of the Qur'an

  • A Miracle is what is referred to as Mu’jiza in Arabic.
  • Its root word is ‘ajz, which means to be incapable of or to be weak.
  • Technically, it refers to the acts of miraculous nature performed by prophets that human beings are unable to imitate.
  • Allah (SWT) sent through some of His prophets and Messengers specific miracles in order to establish the authenticity of His message to humankind.
  • It is important to understand that the prophets or Messengers had no powers of their own to perform miracles.
  • It was Allah (SWT) who used to make His prophets or Messengers perform miracles in order to prove to their respective Ummah that they were speaking the truth.
  • Among the miracles that Prophet Muhammad’s (SWT) was given by Allah is the Holy Qur’an.
  • It stands out as miracle because since its revelation no creature has been capable to produce the like of it, not even the Arabs, who had reached the peak of eloquence and poetry in the Arabic language.
  • They could not succeed because the Holy Qur’an has some features that make it inimitable and unique, ranging from its style , language, content among others.
  • When Allah (SWT) challenged them to produce one, they were unable to do so.
  • When they were incapable of producing one, Allah (SWT) said to them:
    Say: “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they helped one another.” [Q 17:88]
  • Apart from the man’s inability to produce even a verse of it, there are other several miracles of this Holy Scripture such as the following:
    • The Qur’an has remained in its original form since its revelation. No man has ever been able to change it or tamper with its originality. [Q17:88]
    • It motivates the reader to continuously read it because of its profound mix of rhythm and rhyme which is brought about by its poetic construction.
    • One is rewarded by Allah (SWT) for its recitation. For example: It was narrated by Abd- Allah ibn al Aas (RA) said: The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) said: Whoever recites ten ayat in qiyaam will not be recorded as one of the forgetful. Whoever recites a hundred ayat in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the devout, and whoever prays a thousand ayat in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the muqantareen (those who pile up good deeds).”(Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibbaan).
    • It is easy to memorize the wording of the Qur’an and the arrangement.
    • Contains scientific information that man has either recently discovered or is yet to discover. This ranges from astronomy, embryology, and geology and many other discoveries that man has yet to learn from the Holy Qur’an.
    • It is perfect and free of shortcomings. [Q 39:27-28]
    • It is comprehensive in nature as it carries all the aspects of life. It covers the moral, social, economic and political aspects of man’s life.
    • When recited, the Holy Qur’an soothes the body, mind and soul as it gives inner most peace. It also instils feeling of hope and satisfaction because it directly addresses the person reading it.
    • The Qur’an is full of wisdom and offers valid solutions to all problems and situations.
    • It has proven to be the absolute guidance to mankind because it refers to itself as a book of guidance (Hudan).
    • It comprises of judicial laws that have proven to be relevant for all time and generations.
    • The Qur’an was revealed to the unlettered Prophet (PBUH) yet he was able to grasp all its contents (from Jibril) and apply it accordingly.

Translation of the Holy Quran

  • You must have come across situations where translation is inevitable.
  • Translation can be done to written information or speech.
  • Therefore, Tarjamatul Qur’an or translation of the Qur’an refers to expression of the meaning of the Holy Qur’an using a language other than the original (Arabic) language in order to create understanding of the same.
  • For example, translating from Arabic to English, or to Kiswahili, French, German, Urdu or to any other language.
  • There are some other works that incorporate Tarjamatul Qur’an and tafseer (exegesis) such as the “Translation and commentary” by ‘Abdullah eusuf ‘Ali (English).
  • Under the translation of the Qur’an, we shall look at the following three main concepts:

Condition for the Translation

  • You will realise that in any given task there are defined rules and regulations that should be observed or applied in order to promote the validity and acceptability of the respective work.
  • It is not permissible to any person to translate the Holy Qur’an without taking into account the conditions that will make it accepted by the Muslim Ummah.
  • There are strict conditions or rules that should be considered when translating the Qur’an:
  • Among those rules are as follows:
    • The translator must be well versed with both the Arabic language and the translation language to give the correct meaning of the given words and expressions.
    • It should reflect the teachings enshrined in the Holy Qur’an and Hadith.
    • The translator should be well versed with the Seerah (life history) of the Prophet (PBUH).
    • The translator should be a practising Muslim who fears Allah and has sound aq ‘ida (strong Islamic belief).
    • One must be conversant with the sciences of the Qur’an such as as-babul nuzul (reasons for revelation), collection and arrangement, themes and style among other related sciences of the Qur’an

Benefits of Translating Qur’an

  • Translation has several benefits.
  • It aims at promoting the understanding and application of the gained information.
  • It fosters proper usage and prevents misunderstanding which may bar communication.
  • Here we shall discuss the benefits of translating Qur’an into other languages.
    • It will enable Muslims to understand the Allah’s (SWT) message in their own languages.
    • Since the Qur’an is universal book, translating it will help other people of different faiths to take interest in its study.
    • It enables people to make valid and accurate comparisons between the Qur’an and other revealed scriptures.
    • Contributes to the expansion of knowledge as one gets to gather and understand a lot of information from this sacred book.
    • Makes the understanding and the application of the Qur’an easier to speakers of various languages.
    • It can be used as a source of reference where need be.
    • People can study the Holy text and write commentary about it.
    • Translation of the Holy Qur’an simplifies the meaning and teachings of its text to all humankind. One is able to read even without a teacher.
    • It is used for da’wa (propagation purposes to invite people into the fold of Islam) as it enables non-Muslims to understand the teachings of Islam.
    • Enables non-Arabic speakers to understand the teachings of Qur’an. This is because the Arabic language is the original language of the Qur’an.

Problems of Translating Qur’an

  • The art of translation deals with the use of two languages to express the meaning of a given concept or using a new language to explain from the original language.
  • During this exercise one may encounter some challenges because each language has different linguistic approaches depending on grammatical aspects and contextual analysis on the vocabulary usage.
  • Translating the Qur’an is no different.
  • Several problems may arise as a result of translation of the Qur’an.
  • Some of these problems include the following:
    • It interferes with the originality of the Qur’an since translation aims at expressing the original meaning using a new language.
    • The meanings cannot be adequately expressed because languages have different linguistic orientation which may be determined by choice and meaning of vocabulary.
    • The verses that starting with alphabets cannot be translated because some of those alphabets might not be found in the language selected for the translation
    • It may promote subjectivity which may be provoked by individual preferences and interest rendering the work substandard and unreliable.
    • The use of varied methods by individual scholars (translators) will bring about the question of authenticity, trust and acceptability.

Quran as Perfect and Final Revelation

  • We have earlier discussed the miraculous nature of the Holy Qur’an.
  • We learnt that since the revelation of the Qur’an, Allah challenged man to produce the like of it but they failed to do so. 
  • The answer is simple; no creature or person can compete with Allah (SWT).
  • It is also important to note that all Muslims in the world have never conflicted on the verses of the Qur’an.
  • Another fact is that since the demise of Prophet Muhammad (hBUH) the Qur’an has been passed down smoothly from one generation to another without any problems.
  • In this subtopic we shall therefore discuss why the Qur’an is a perfect and final revelation.
  • Here are some of the facts that prove that the Holy Qur’an is final and perfect revelation:
    • The Qur’an does not have any shortcomings since the time of its revelation. No mistakes, either grammatical, semantically or of any kind have been identified from the Qur’an.
    • It is comprehensive in nature and touches on all the aspects of human life.
    • Allah (SWT) Himself vowed to protect the Qur’an from all kind of interference or destruction.
    • It talks about the stories of past events. These are narratives and parables of the latter prophets and generation.
    • It talks about the hereafter by giving details of the day of judgement, paradise and hellfire in order to give man time to make a choice.
    • It was revealed to the last prophet. That is Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
    • The Holy Qur’an is a universal book. It was the only sacred scripture revealed to the entire humankind unlike the other previous scriptures which were revealed to specific groups of people.
    • It was revealed to the last Ummah. Allah (SWT) has declared that there is no any other generation after it.
    • Considering the list of the revealed scriptures, the Holy Qur’an is the last to be revealed to humankind.

Suratul Hujurat (The Inner Apartments or the Chambers)

  • The term ‘Hujurat’ is derived from an Arabic word Hujra referring to a room, chamber or an apartment. In this Sura, the name Hujurat appears in verse 4.
  • It has been used to refer to the prophet (PBUH’s) dwellings or inner apartments of his house where he used to rest with his wives.
  • The prophet had private apartments or rooms where he socialised with his wives.

Background to the Revelation of Surah al Hujurat

  • This is the 49th Surah in the arrangement of the chapters of the Holy Qur’an.
  • It contains a total of eighteen verses.
  • It was revealed in the 9th year after the Prophet (PBUH) and the Muslims had migrated to Madina (Hijra).
  • The year is referred to as the year of deputations.
  • By this time, most of the Arab tribes had accepted Islam and were therefore so enthusiastic about their new acquired status.
  • This period saw the Prophet (PBUH) receiving delegations from different regions that came to confirm their loyalty to him and accept Islam.
  • Among these groups were the Bedouins Arabs.
  • These were desert Arab village dwellers that were rough in speech and action and lacked gentleness in their dealings due to the harsh desert climate.
  • When they came to Madina, they addressed the prophet disrespectfully.
  • Their character displeased Allah (SWT) prompting the revelation of this Surah. Verses 2-3 specifically reprimand the disrespectable behaviour of the Bedouins towards the Prophet (PBUH).
  • The surah then goes further to expound on the general conduct of a Muslims towards their leaders.
  • It gives guidelines on how a Muslim should relate with others in the society and social evils are highly condemned. 

Teachings of Hujurat

  • Believers should avoid making quick or hasty decisions disregarding Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (PBUH). We should always refer to the Qur’an and Hadith on any matters concerning the religion since you may decide contrary to the rule of the Shariah.
  • While speaking to the Prophet (PBUH), believers should not raise their voices above that of the Prophet (PBUH). They should speak with respect and honour. Likewise, while speaking to the leaders or seeking guidance, believers should not show disrespect or raise their voices. They should show patience and avoid anticipating what the leader wants to say lest.
  • Muslims should consider the privacy of their leaders and seek for their attention when they have time to attend to them. We should avoid shouting from outside their places of abode but patiently wait for them to come to our service.
  • Believers should avoid calling other people’s attention by shouting their names from outside their places of abode. It is advised that they call them by the main door and in low voices.
  • Muslims should be gentle, polite and courteous whenever they are asking for something or talking to those in authority.
  • Believers should speak in low tones when in places of worship or during acts of Ibadah.
  • Believers should not rely on rumours, reports or any information brought to them before verifying its source and truth especially if such information is from someone whom they know is wicked and untrustworthy.
  • The Prophet (PBUH) is not led by the advice of his people nor is he swayed by his own personal feelings and desires but by that which Allah (SWT) guides him.
  • Islam encourages virtues such as discipline, obedience and righteousness and dislikes vices like unfaithfulness, wickedness and rebellion.
  • All believers are brothers. It is therefore the responsibility of the Muslims to foster unity, brotherhood or sisterhood. In case of any conflicts, they should settle them amicably and help the warring parties to reconcile. Justice should be observed during the reconciliation process because Allah (SWT) loves those who are fair and just in their dealings.
  • Believers should not mock, scoff, ridicule or call each other by offensive nicknames. Such disrespectful nicknames may defame their character, cause harm amongst them or even disunite the entire Muslim Ummah.
  • Believers should avoid suspicion, spying or prying into other people’s privacy.
  • Backbiting and speaking ill of others in their absence is prohibited. Allah (SWT) refers to it as a distasteful habit and compares it to the backbiter eating the flesh of the person he or she is backbiting.
  • Verse thirteen declares the universal brotherhood of all mankind who were created from a single pair (that is; Adam and Hawa). Every believer is therefore equal before the eyes of Allah (SWT) but Allah (SWT) honours the one who is most righteous.
  • Declares the universal brotherhood of all mankind. The surah explains that all human beings came from a single pair (that is; Adam and Hawa). Every believer is therefore equal before the eyes of Allah (SWT) but He only honours the one who is most righteous.
  • Allah (SWT) Has created humankind in different nations, races and tribes so that they may know, understand and appreciate each other. Allah (SWT) did not intend such differences for disunity, segregation, bias or despise amongst His people.
  • Muslims should have strong belief in Tawheed (Islamic monotheism) and show complete submission to the will of Allah (SWT). They should not be doubtful in their faith but should show true and sincere devotion to Islam.
  • Allah has full knowledge about his creations and is the All Seer of all human deeds.
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