Introduction to the Basic Facts

The Basic Facts on the Quran are culled from the Quran itself. It is also in a sense, the thumb-nail 'history' of the Quran, and the history of its translations. The history of the translations of the Quran is adapted from the translation and commentary of the Quran by A. Yusuf Ali.

I hope that the students of the Quran will find this modest attempt interesting.

Quran is the Manifesto of Islam.

Islam is the world's only major monotheistic religion that is also a total political system, complete with rules of law, a system of government, and an economic infrastructure.

Islam is not the religion of Muhammad, the Messenger of God (may God bless him and his Ahle Bayt). It is the religion of surrender to God's Will - the surrender implicit in the submission of Abraham (Ibrahim) and his son Ismael, in the supreme test - the attempted sacrifice expressed in the word aslama.

Tauheed or belief in the Oneness of God, is the central doctrine of Islam. All of Islam revolves around Tauheed. It is the first Article of Faith in Islam, and is summed up in the 112nd Chapter of the Quran (Sura Ikhlas) or (Purity of Faith), which reads as follows:

"Say; he is God, the One and Only;
God, the Eternal, Absolute;
He begetteth not nor is He begotten;
And there is none like unto Him." (112:1-4)

Etymologically the term Quran simply means 'reading' or 'reciting'. Theologically it means the Word of God Almighty.

Quran, the Divine Book of Islam, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and his Ahle Bayt), for the guidance of mankind, for all times to come. The Quran is the last and final revelation.

The first Revelation was brought to Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel. The Prophet was 40 years old when this occurred. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, forty years after the Year of the Elephant (570 AD), or thirteen years before the Hijra (the migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Medina in 622 AD). He was in the cave of Hira when he received the first Revelation. Hira is a cave on a hill, three miles north-east of Makkah in Arabia.

The first Revelation consisted of the following five verses:

"Read! In the name of your Lord and Cherisher,
Who created - created man,
Out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood,
Read! And your Lord is most bountiful,
He who taught (the use of) the pen,
Taught man that he knew not." (96:1-5)

These five verses are at the beginning of the 96th Sura or Chapter of the Quran. The Chapter is called Iqraa (Read or Proclaim), or Alaq (the clot of congealed blood).

The last verse of the Quran which was revealed to Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, was the following one:

"This day I have perfected your religion for you,
Completed my favor upon you,
And have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (5:3)

This clause occurs in the 3rd verse of the fifth chapter Al-Maida (the Table Spread) of the Quran. It was revealed on the plain of Ghadir, on the 18th of Zilhajj of 10 AH, a date which corresponds to March 21, 632, when the Prophet had completed the Farewell Pilgrimage, and was returning from Makkah to Medina.

Since God Himself perfected Islam, it is not subject to any modification by anyone; it is impervious to change for all time. But Islam allows flexibility in the interpretation of its laws.

After the revelation of this verse, the Prophet of Islam, lived another 80 days in the world. No other revelation came to him during those eighty days. The Message was complete; the religion had been perfected. The Revelation had thus ended forever.

The opening Sura (chapter) of the Quran is Al-Fatiha. It is indeed the essence of Quran. It consists of seven verses. Recited at least seventeen times daily in the five daily prayers by every man and woman, old and young, this is the most recited prayer in the world. It is most inspiring to dwell upon each word of this miraculous revelation.

Sura Al-Baqara (the Cow), is the second chapter in Quran. It is the longest chapter in the Book and contains 286 verses. Also, its verse 282, is the longest verse of the Quran.

Ayat Al-Kursi (the Verse of' the Thorne), the 255th verse, also occurs in the Sura Baqara. It is one of the most important verses of the Quran, repeatedly recited by the Muslims for thawab (blissful reward).

Al-Baqara is also important because it encompasses the bulk of Islamic jurisprudence.

The second longest chapter in the Quran is the 26th Chapter, Shuaraa (the Poets), with 227 verses; the third longest is the 7th Chapter, Araf, (the Heights), with 206 verses; and the fourth longest is the 3rd Chapter, Al-Imran, with 200 verses.

The following three short Suras consists of three verses each.

1. Al-Asr (Time) - Chapter 103
2. Al-Kauthar (Abundance) - Chapter 108
3. Al-Nasr (Help) - Chapter 110

Al-Kauthar is the shortest Sura.

The Quran was completed in 23 years - from 610 AD to 632 AD.

The Quran is divided into 30 parts; it is sub-divided into 114 Suras. The Suras are designated as Makkan or Madinite according to where it was revealed. The number of Makkan Suras (those revealed in Makkah) is 70, whereas the number of Madinite Suras (those revealed in Medina) is 44.

Quran has 338,606 letters (huruf); 86,430 words (kalemat); and 6,666 verses (ayat). It has 39,582 signs of kasra (zer); 53242 fatha (zabar) and 8804 zamma (pesh). It has 1252 tashdeed, 1771 madda and 105,684 dots. It is the basis of religion, and the canon of ethical and moral life. It is also the first prose book in Arabic. Its style is Divine, and inimitable. It is one of the greatest miracles.

The following Suras (Chapters) have been named after the Prophets:

1. Yunus - Chapter 10
2. Hud - Chapter 11
3. Yusuf - Chapter 12
4. Ibrahim - Chapter 14
5. Luqman - Chapter 31
6. Muhammad - Chapter 47
7. Nuh - Chapter 71

We are not sure if Hazrat Luqman was a Prophet as the traditions vary.

Janabe Mary or Maryam, the mother of Prophet Jesus (Isa) (peace be upon them), is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran. The 19th Chapter of the Quran - Maryam - is named after her. Zaid is the only companion of the last Prophet, mentioned by name in the Quran.

Sura Anam (the Cattle), is the sixth Chapter of the Quran. It has the names of 18 Prophets in four consecutive verses.

The following 28 Prophets have been mentioned by their names in Quran:

1. Adam

2. Nuh (Noah)
3. Ibrahim (Abraham)
4. Ismael
5. Ishaq (Isaac)
6. Yaqub (Yaqub)
7. Yusuf (Goseph)
8. Al-Yasa (Elisha)
9. Yunus
10. Lut
11. Saleh
12. Hud
13. Shuaib
14. Dawud (David)
15. Sulayman (Solomon)
16. Dhul-Kifl (Issiah)
17. Idris (Enoch)
18. Ilias (Alias)
19. Zakariya
20. Yahya (Gohn)
21. Ayub (Gob)
22. Musa (Moses)
23. Haroon (Aaron)
24. Isa (Jesus)
25. Uzair (Ezra)
26. Luqman
27. Zulqarnayn
28. Muhammad

Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), has been called 'friend of Al1ah'; the verse 125 of the Sura an-Nisaa or the Women, (Chapter 4), reads as follows:

"Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith! For Allah did take Abraham for a friend." (4:125)

Prophet Abraham had two sons. "The younger son's progeny developed the Faith of Israel and that of Christ; the elder son’s progeny perfected the more universal Faith of Islam, the Faith of Abraham the True.” (A. Yusuf Ali).

Prophet Moses (Musa), was honored by Allah Who spoke to him directly; the verse 164 of the Sura an-Nisaa or the Women, (Chapter 4), reads as follows:

"Of some Apostles We have already told you the story;
Of others We have not; and to Moses Allah spoke direct." (4:164)

The name of Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and his Ahle Bayt) has been honored in Quran in the following verses:

1. "O Prophet! Truly We have sent you as a Witness,
A Bearer of Glad Tidings, and a Warner" (33:45)

2. "And as one who invites to Allah’s (Grace) by His leave,
And as a Lamp spreading Light." (33:46)

3. "We have not sent you but as a universal (Messenger) to men,
Giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men do not understand." (34:28)

4. "Muhammad is not the father of any of your men,
But (he is) the Apostle of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets,
And Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (33:40)

5. "We have sent you not, but as a Mercy for all creatures." (21:107)

The name of Prophet, Muhammad occurs in Quran in the following five verses:

Chapter 3, Verse 144
Chapter 33, Verse 40
Chapter 47, Verse 2
Chapter 48, Verse 29
Chapter 61, Verse 6 (as Ahmad)

Among all the contemporaries of the last Prophet of Islam, only two men have been mentioned by name in the Quran; they are Zayd bin Haritha and Abu Lahab. They are cited in the following verses:

1. "Then when Zayd (bin Haritha) had dissolved (his marriage) with her,
With the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee:" (33:37)

2. "Perish the hands of Abu Lahab (the Father of the Flame)! Perish he!" (111:1)

In the Quran:
Adam is mentioned 25 times, Idris twice, Nuh 49 times, Hud 8 times, Saleh 9 times, Ibrahim 49 times, Ismael 12 times, Ishaaq 17 times, Yaqub 16 times, Yusuf 27 times, Lut 27 times, Ayub 4 times, Shoaib 11 times, Musa 133 times (the most mentioned name of a Prophet), Haroon 19 times, Dawood 16 times, Sulayman 17 times, Yahya 7 times, Isa 36 times, Uzair once, Al-Yasa twice, Dhul-Kifl twice, Yunus 6 times, Ilias 3 times and Zakariah 7 times.
May Allah's peace be upon all of them.

The first Ayat of the Quran:
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim, has 19 Arabic alphabets. It is interesting to note that whereas every chapter of the Quran starts with this Ayat (Bismillah), except for Sura Tauba, all Kalemats (sentences) of the Quran, have one or more out of the 19 alphabets of Bismillah except for one Kalima, ‘Qad Saghat’ in Ayat 4 of the 66th Sura, Tahreen.

The Quran is called in its own text - by 55 titles according to Al-Suyuti's book, Itqaan. Some of these titles are given here under with their meanings:

1. Al-Kitab: The Book
2. Al-Quran: The Reading
3. Al-Mubin: The Enlightener
4. Al-Kalam: The Word
5. Al-Burhan: The Proof
6. An-Noor: The Light
7. Al-Huda: The Guide
8. Az-Zikr: The Reminder
9. Ash-Shifa: The Healing
10. Al-Hikmah: The Wisdom
11. Al-Ali: The Lofty
12. Ar-Rahman: The Mercy
13. Al-Bayan: The Explanation
14. Al-Balagh: The Message

Allah (swt) has used His Name, Allah, in the Quran 2698 times, Rahman 57 times, Rahim 114 times and Ism 19 times. These numbers are other than Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.

Sura Mujadilah is the only Sura of the Quran, where in each verse (Ayat), the name of' Allah has been mentioned.

Whereas the longest verse (Ayat) of Quran is Verse 282 of Sura Al-Baqara, the shortest verse is Verse 21 of Sura Mudathir.

There are 29 letters in the Arabic alphabet (counting hamza and alif as two letters), and there are 29 Suras (chapters) which have abbreviated letters prefixed to them. These abbreviated letters are called Muqattaat.

The core doctrines of Islam are summed up in the following verses:

1. "O you who believe! Believe in Allah, and His Apostle, and the scripture which He has sent to His Apostle and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denies Allah, His angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the Day of Judgment, has gone far, far astray." (4:136)

2. "But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the Believers, believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you and (especially) those who establish regular prayer and practice regular charity and believe in Allah and in the Last Day: to them We shall soon give a great reward." (4:162)

3. "The Believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Apostle. On them Allah will pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise." (9:71)

4. "But it is righteousness - to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing." (2:177)

The mission of the Prophet of Islam has been delineated in the following verse:

"A similar (favor you have already received) in that We have sent among you as Apostle of your own, rehearsing to you Our Signs, and sanctifying you, and instructing you in Scripture and Wisdom, and in new Knowledge." (2:151)

According to this verse, Muhammad Mustafa (S) had to carry out the following duties as the Messenger of Allah:

1. Rehearsing the Signs of Allah;

2. Sanctifying the Muslims through Faith and Good Works. Most important of the Good Works are the five daily canonical prayers of Islam, regular charity, and the duty of commanding others to do good, and forbidding them from doing wrong;

3. Instructing the Muslims in Scripture and good sense; and

4. Imparting new Knowledge to the Muslims.

Islam is the greatest leveler of political, social and economic inequalities, and ethnic and national distinctions, as we read in the following verse:

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." (49:13)

This verse is addressed to all mankind and not only to the Muslim brotherhood. The tribes, races and nations are convenient labels by which we may know certain differing characteristics. Before God they are all one, and he gets most honor who is most righteous. (A. Yusuf Ali )

There is no question now of race or nation, of a 'chosen people' or the 'seed of Abraham'; or the 'seed of David'; or of Hindu Arya-varta; of Jew or Gentile, Arab or 'Ajam (Persian), Turk or Tajik, European or Asiatic, White or Colored; Aryan, Semitic, Mongolian, or African; or American, Australian, or Polynesian. To all men and creatures other than men who have any spiritual responsibility, the principles universally apply. (A. Yusuf Ali)

Each Chapter of the Quran begins with Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (in the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful) except for Sura Tauba (Repentance) or Berat (Immunity) - the 9th Chapter.

This Sura was a notable declaration of State policy promulgated about the month of Shawwal, 9 AH (630 AD). The Messenger of Allah selected Ali ibn Abi Talib to promulgate this important Sura (Chapter).

Muhammad Husayn Haykal, the Egyptian biographer of the Prophet of Islam, writes in his The Life of Muhammad, about the promulgation of this chapter, as follows:

"Ali ibn Abi Talib was entrusted by the Prophet with the duty to proclaim the commandments of God and His Prophet. When the pilgrims congregated at Mina, Ali rose, and delivered all these verses from Surah Al-Taubah. After he finished his recitation of the Qur'an, he continued in his own words: "O men, no unbeliever will enter paradise; no polytheist will perform pilgrimage after this year; and no naked man will be allowed to circumambulate the Kaaba. Whoever has entered into a covenant with the Apostle of Allah will have his covenant fulfilled as long as its term lasts." Ali proclaimed these four instructions to the people and then gave everybody four months of general peace and amnesty during which anyone could return safely home. From that time on no polytheist performed the pilgrimage and no naked man circumambulated the Kaaba. From that day onwards, the Islamic state was established."

Each chapter of the Quran begins with Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (in the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful) except for the Sura Tauba (Repentance) or Berat (Immunity), the 9th Chapter.

Sura Naml (the Ants), the 27th Chapter of the Quran, has two Bismillahs, one at the beginning, and one in Verse 30.

Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic calendar) is the only month mentioned in the Quran. The name occurs in Verse 85 of Sura Baqara (the second Sura).

Friday is the only day mentioned in the Quran. Sura 62 has been titled Jumaa (Friday).

The names of the following cities or countries or places have been mentioned in the Quran:

Mt. Sinai - Chapter 2; Verse 93
Babylon - Chapter 2; Verse 102
Arafat - Chapter 2; Verse 198
Bakka or Makkah - Chapter 3; Verse 96
Badr - Chapter 3; Verse 123
Hunain - Chapter 9; Verse 25
Egypt - Chapter 10; Verse 87
Egypt - Chapter 12; Verse 21
Mt. Judi - Chapter 11; Verse 44
Valley of Tuwa - Chapter 20; Verse 12
Madyan - Chapter 28; Verse 45
Mountain of Tur - Chapter 28; Verse 46
Rome (Rum) - Chapter 30; Verse 2
Yathrib - Chapter 33; Verse 13
Saba - Chapter 34; Verse 15
Makkah - Chapter 48; Verse 24

The following eatables and drinks have been mentioned in the Quran:

Manna and Salwa - Chapter 2; Verse 57
Pot-herbs, Cucumbers, Garlic, Lentils, Onions - Chapter 2; Verse 61
Date-palms and Vines - Chapter 2; Verse 266
Meat - Chapter 5; Verse 2
Grain, Grapes, Olives and Pomegranates - Chapter 6; Verse 99
Corn - Chapter 13; Verse 4
Fish - Chapter 16; Verse 14
Milk - Chapter 16; Verse 66
Honey - Chapter 47; Verse 15
Water - Chapter 47; Verse 15
Wine - Chapter 47; Verse 15
Ginger (Zanjabil) - Chapter 76; Verse 17
Wine (pure and holy) - Chapter 76; Verse 21
Corn and Vegetables - Chapter 78; Verse 15
Fig - Chapter 95; Verse 1

The following colors have been mentioned in the Quran:

White, Red, and Black - Chapter 35; Verse 27
Green (Tree) - Chapter 36; Verse 80
Pink (or Red) - Chapter 55; Verse 37
Dark Green - Chapter 55; Verse 64
Green (Garments) - Chapter 76; Verse 21

Ya-Sin or the 36th Sura of the Quran, is particularly devoted to the last Prophet and the Revelation which he brought. The abbreviated letters Ya-Sin are usually construed as a title of the holy Prophet. This Sura is considered to be 'the heart' of the Quran; as it concerns the central figure in the teaching of Islam and the central doctrine of Revelation and the Hereafter. As referring to the Hereafter, it is appropriately read in solemn ceremonies after death. (A. Yusuf Ali)

The first chapter of the Quran revealed in Medina, was Al-Baqara, the second Sura.

The last chapter of the Quran revealed in Makkah, was Mutaffifin, the 83rd Sura.

The Treaty of Hudaybiyya has been called The Manifest Victory (Fathe Mobin) in the following verse of the Quran:
"Verily We have granted you a Manifest Victory." (48:1)

"By this Treaty the Meccan Quraish, after many years of unrelenting conflict with Islam, at length recognized Islam as (what they thought) an equal power with themselves. In reality the door was then opened for the free spread of Islam throughout Arabia and thence through the world." (A. Yusuf Ali)

The Treaty of Hudaybiyya is the most important political document in the entire history of Islam. The Secretary who was chosen by the Prophet of Islam for indicting its terms, was Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Treaty of Hudaybiyya was signed in Zilqaad 6 AH (February 628).