(Arab. Quran, Turk. Kur’an)
The primary meaning of the Arabic word ‘Qur’an’ is to read, to recite. The Qur’an is the book that God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the archangel Gabriel, bit by bit, between the years 610 and 632. For the most part, the surahs and verses from the time in which the Prophet still lived in Mecca concern faith, questions of ethics, and practices of religious observance, as well as the prophets before Muhammad and their experiences with their peoples. The surahs and verse passages from the time in Medina are devoted more to social, economic, legal, and political themes. The Qur’an consists of 6236 verses and is divided up into 114 surahs, two-thirds of which were revealed in Mecca and one-third in Medina. Whenever verses were revealed, the Prophet recited them to his friends, who learned them by heart. Already during the initial years of revelation, the verses began to be put down in writing. The Prophet Muhammad had various scribes, among them Zayd ibn Thabit (d. 665), Uthman ibn Affan (d. 656) und Ubayy ibn Ka’b (d. 656). According to tradition, each year during the month of Ramadan, the Prophet Muhammad, joined by the angel Gabriel, reviewed all of the verses that had been revealed up to that point (cf. Bukhari). It is said that this review was carried out twice during the last Ramadan prior to the Prophet’s death (cf. Ibn Madscha). Following the death of the Prophet (632), the Qur’an was compiled in book form and referred to as mus’haf (the designation for a copy of the Qur’an). The verses that the Prophet’s companions had learned by heart or written down on a variety of media were compiled by Zayd ibn Thabit, carefully examined and transposed to paper sheets (suhuf). Following the death of Abu Bakr (d. 634), this volume was presented to his successor, Umar (d. 644), who in turn bequeathed it to his daughter Hafsa (d. c. 665). During the time of the caliphate of Uthman (644–656), this volume served as the basis for the duplication of Qur’an specimens with a standardised typeface. In the specimens of the Qur’an that date to the beginnings there were still no diacritics or vowel marks. These were inserted into the standardised text later on. The surahs in the Qur’an are not arranged in the chorological order of their revelation. Instead, the long surahs in the Qur’an generally come first, followed by surahs of increasingly shorter length. Each surah has a name that is usually derived from the themes or persons addressed in the texts. Accordingly, surah 12, which addresses the history of Joseph, is entitled Joseph. All of the surahs, with the exception of the ninth, begin with the Bismillah phrase: ‘In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful’. In addition to surahs limited to a single topic, there are also surahs that address a wide range of topics. This is likely a result of the fact that the Qur’anic verses were revealed in keeping with the needs of their addressees at the time. The main theme of the Qur’an is humankind in its relationships with other living beings, occurrences, and facts. The aim of the Qur’an is to show humankind its place within creation. To this end, it contains principles, commandments and exhortations intended to bring well-being, satisfaction and happiness to humankind. The Qur’an addresses topics such as God, the afterlife, the experiences of past peoples, practices of religious observance, law, ethics and Creation, and always in reference to the human individual who is the addressee of revelation. Like every holy message, the object of the Qur’an is for humankind to develop a stable attitude towards life with the aid of revelation. In addition, the Qur’an speaks in detail of the existence of God, the oneness of God, and the Divine attributes. Yet, the main topic of the Qur’an is the human being. Four principal dimensions can be identified within this framework: 1. the relationship between God and the world (the initial and continual Creation); 2. the relationship between God and humankind (in ontological, epistemological, and existential terms); 3. the relationship between human beings (ethics and law); 4. the relationship between humankind and the universe. All of the themes addressed in the Qur’an can be situated within this basic structure. The Qur’an always sees the human individual in his or her relationship to the universe, to society and to history, and thus in the context of reality in its entirety.