Meaning of the Qur'an
There are a number of opinions regarding the literal meaning of the word Qur'an. Some say the word is derived from qara'a, which means, 'to read, to recite.' Based on this understanding, the word Qur'an translates as 'Recitation,' or The Reading.' The second opinion is that the word derives from the root qarana, which means, 'to join, to associate.' Thus the meaning of Qur'an would be 'That which is joined together,' because of its verses and chapters are combined to form a book. Yet another opinion is that it derives from qar', which means 'to combine'. It is so called since it combines stories, commands, promises and punishments. However, the most popular and strongest amongst all the opinions is the first one. Allaah knows best!
The Definition of the Qur'an
In shariah terms however, the Qur'an is the Arabic speech. (kalaam) of Allaah, which He revealed to Muhammad in wording and meaning, and which has been preserved in the mus-hafs and has reached us by mutawaatir (numerous chains of) transmissions, and is a challenge to mankind to produce something similar to it.
The Qur'an is in the Arabic language
The first part of this definition implies that the Qur'an is in the Arabic language and that a translation into any other language cannot be considered Qur'an. The translation is at best the understanding of the meaning the Qur'an according to a particular translator. It is therefore not permissible to substitute the Qur'an in Arabic either in its recitation in salaat or any other acts of ibaadah in which Qur'an is required to be recited. Allaah says:
"Verily, We have revealed this as an Arabic Qur'an." (QI 2 [Yusuf}:2)
... speech (kalaam) of Allaah
The second part indicates that Qur'an is the speech (kalaam) of Allaah. He spoke in a manner that befits His majesty. Allaah's speech is excluded from all speeches of men, jinn and angels. He spoke to some of the prophets (such as Musa and Muhammad) and they heard His voice directly. How does the voice of Allaah sound? We do not try to find out before we are told or spoken to by Allaah Himself on the Day of Judgement .
... which He revealed to Muhammad ...
The implication of this aspect of the definition is that! Allaah's speech (kalaam) that He spoke to other prophet is different from the Qur'an. Impliedly. this definition limits the Qur'an to the kalaam that Allaah revealed to Muhammad and excludes any speech that He spoke to other than the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Thus the Qur'an is specifically the revelation sent down to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).
"And truly this Qur'an is a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, which the Trustworthy Spirit (Angel Jibreel) brought down; upon your heart (Muhammad) so that you may be among the warners." (Q26[Shuaraa]: 192-194)
... in word and meaning ..•
This affirms that the words of the Qur'an are from Allaah, and not from Jibreel or even Muhammad as some would claim. According to scholars, this part of the definition of the Qur'an also excludes the hadeeth Qudsi since according to scholars of hadeeth, hadeeth Qudsi is only inspired in meaning while its wording is from the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) .
... which has been preserved in the mus-hats ...
A mus-hafis a written copy of the Qur'an. In this definition, it refers to the copies that Uthman (RA) ordered to be compiled. This copy consists of one hundred and fourteen surahs, starting with suruatul-Fatihah and ending with suratun-Naas. This definition excludes any part of the Qur'an that used to be part of the Qur'an but was abrogated by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) before his death .
... and has reached us by mutawaatir transmissions ...
A transmission is called mutawaatir when it is reported by a large number of people such that it is practically impossible that all of them will be mistaken or intentionally forged a lie. The Qur'an has reached us through numerous chains. The number of people that read the Qur'an same way in each generation is so large that there is no question regarding its authenticity .
... and is a challenge to mankind to produce something similar to it.
The last part of this definition points out the miraculous nature (Ijaz) which is peculiar to the Qur'an. Allaah has challenged mankind to produce even a chapter similar to it and this challenge is reserved only for the Qur'an.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited