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The Qur'an: Tradition Vs. History

The Qur'an: Tradition Vs. History

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A short response composed for a class on the study of Islam, this work makes a very brief pass at the history of the Qur'an and its composition.
A short response composed for a class on the study of Islam, this work makes a very brief pass at the history of the Qur'an and its composition.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Juan A. Caballero Prieto on Jul 18, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Qur’an
Juan A. Caballero Prieto
Page 1
The Qur‟an:
Tradition vs. History
It belongs not to any mortal that god should speak to him,except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or that Heshould send a messenger and he reveal whatsoever He will, byHis leave; surely He is All-high, All-wise.
Gatje p.45; Zamahshari on Sura 42:51/50f 
The Qur’an
Juan A. Caballero Prieto
Page 2
The Qur‟an is the main focus of Is
lamic religion and provides day-to-day guidance in regards tothe laws by which all Muslims need to abide; a projection to ancient prophets, and a definition of Islam incontrast with the other major monotheistic religions of the time in which it was composed. The work 
“consists of 114 chapters, called
, arranged roughly in order of length, from longest t
o shortest…
each chapter is divided into verses,
, the total number amounting to somewhere between 6,204 and
6,236, differing according to various schemes of counting,”
In regards to its overall composition
however, the Qur‟an is far more complex that
it would at first seem. Claimed by Muslims to have comedirectly from God (Allah) via Muhammad, the historicity of the work gives us a picture of a volume that
had been put together after Muhammad‟s death and which
evolved into a cohesive whole. As we havelearned in this class,
the Qur‟an serves a paradigmatic function within the Muslim community
meant to join them to the enlightened traditions of the West with a monotheism superior to that of the existingreligions of the same claim.
The focus of this research paper will be how Muslim tradition sees the
Qur‟an and what the peculiar compositions of its structure say about the development of Islam as areligion. We will find that Islam, as well as the Qur‟an, is a composition that evolved
at the hands of adevoted class of followers who sought to consolidate the sayings of Muhammad as revealed to him byGod.
The Qur‟an in Islamic Tradition
When it comes to Islam itself, traditional beliefs about the Qur‟an are straightforward, the book 
was passed down from God to Muhammad,
according to some traditionalists in seven dialects,
and itserved the purpose of guiding the believers or creatures that He had created so that when the end of theworld came, those who have chosen to follow Him would be saved.
The book establishes itself early onas unique and above all others in regards to its message, denouncing Judaism and Christianity as
Rippin p.20; Weil p.349
From my notes on Lecture IV of this course by professor Von Sivers
Gatje pp.4-5
Weil P.346; of which Quraish was selected as the main linguistic characterization
Rippin p.21
The Qur’an
Juan A. Caballero Prieto
Page 3
conformist religions in regards to unbelievers.
These ideas reinforce Muslim traditional belief in theuniqueness
of th
e Qur‟an and their necessity to adhere to a single God
which is indivisible and beyondall understanding. However, like Christianity and Judaism, Islam needed to connect itself to oldertraditions in order to establish what it was trying to revive or oppo
se, and the Qur‟an offered this idea to
traditional Muslims so as to vindicate the antiquity of the religion and its approach to traditionalrevelation.
There are twenty-
eight figures other than Muhammad named in the Qur‟an as having been
commissioned or selected by God to spread His message.
 It would seem, however,
that the most important function of the Qur‟an in traditional Islam is the
guidance it offers
in regards to salvation; “A dichotomy of forbidden (ḥ
aram) and permitted (
permeates the Q
ur‟an and provides an elements of the foundation for Islamic ethics.”
What is
defines the propriety of every Muslim, and it is the behavior of the individual towards theseconcepts and what they embodied that will be the staple of judgment when God brings about the end of 
time. In the end, salvation to a Muslim seems to depend on Qur‟anic revelation
, as it provide
s “a clear and perfect version of the will of God, the correct rendition of revelation.”
The Qur‟an, its Composition, and the Secular View
As we have seen, the Qur‟an is an absolute text to the Muslim, written by Muhammad by direct
revelation from God. However, its composition is more complex than the view of traditional Islam wouldhave us believe.
Muhammad himself is actually excluded from any work regarding the collection of the Qur‟an
into a book, though there are accounts in which he goes over the entire text with his cousin, and future
Qur’an 9/30
This trait or, as Rippin puts it in p.35 of 
his book, “The Doctrine of Inimitability,” is used as evidence by the
Muslims, first under the guide of al-Rummani (d. 996), for the veracity of its contents
Qur’an 2/255
-6 gives us an overall description of God in Islam thought
Muhammad claimed that he recited back portions of the Qur’an to the angel Gabriel in order to establish is
correctness (Weil p.347)
Rippin p.23
; see also Gatje’s chapter III (pp. 92
-129) on Salvation History for greater detail on the matter
Rippin p.27
Rippin p.30

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