Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Quran

Consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura (pl. suar). Chapters are classed as Meccan or Medinan, depending on where the verses were revealed. Chapter titles are derived from a name or quality discussed in the text, or from the first letters or words of the sura. Muslims believe that Muhammad, on God's command, gave the chapters their names.[2] Generally, longer chapters appear earlier in the Qur’an, while the shorter ones appear later. The chapter arrangement is thus not connected to the sequence of revelation. Each sura with the exception of one, commences with the Basmala.

Each sura is formed from several ayat (verses), which originally means a sign or portent sent by God. The number of ayat differ from sura to sura. An individual ayah may be just a few letters or several lines. The ayat are unlike the highly refined poetry of the pre-Islamic Arabs in their content and distinctive rhymes and rhythms, being more akin to the prophetic utterances marked by inspired discontinuities found in the sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. The actual number of ayat has been a controversial issue among Muslim scholars since Islam's inception, some recognizing 6,000, some 6,204, some 6,219, and some 6,236, although the words in all cases are the same. The most popular edition of the Qur’an, which is based on the tradition of the school of Kufa, contains 6,236 ayat.[2]

There is a crosscutting division into 30 parts, ajza, each containing two units called ahzab, each of which is divided into four parts (rub 'al-ahzab). The Qur’an is also divided into seven stations (manazil) .

The Qur’anic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its nonlinear structure being akin to a web or net. Critics have commented on the textual arrangement pointing out lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order, and presence of repetition

based on - wikipedia

Friday, September 28, 2007

Islam (Arabic: الإسلام; al-'islām ) is a monotheistic religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th-century Arab religious and political figure. The word Islam means "submission", or the total surrender of oneself to God (Arabic: الله, Allāh). An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning "one who submits (to God)".[1][2] There are between 0.9 and 1.4 billion Muslims, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world, after Christianity.[3]

Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, God's final prophet, and regard the Qur'an and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam.[4] They do not regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Islamic tradition holds that Judaism and Christianity distorted the messages of these prophets over time either in interpretation, in text, or both.[5]

Islam includes many religious practices. Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community.[6] In addition to the Five Pillars, Islamic law (sharia) has developed a tradition of rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. This tradition encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws and banking to warfare.[7]

Almost all Muslims belong to one of two major denominations, the Sunni and Shi'a. The schism developed in the late 7th century following disagreements over the religious and political leadership of the Muslim community. Roughly 85 percent of Muslims are Sunni and 15 percent are Shi'a. Islam is the predominant religion throughout the Middle East, as well as in parts of Africa and Asia. Large communities are also found in China, Western Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, and Russia. About 20 percent of Muslims live in Arab countries.[8]