The Koran For Dummies
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As the holy book of the Islam religion, the Koran is followed by Muslims around the world. It sets out the basic tenets of the religion, details the purposes of the book and the religion, and is quoted by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The five purposes of the Koran

As the holy book of Islam, the Koran informs millions of Muslims around the world. The book itself serves five essential purposes and the following list explains each in some detail:

  • The Guidance: The Koran serves as a guide to belief in the Oneness of God, and leads to an ethical life defined as Submission or Surrender to the Will of God (Islam). This complete way of life offers guidance through both personal and communal laws.

  • The Criterion: The Koran distinguishes between moral and immoral, ethical and unethical, good and evil. The Book helps Muslims make ethical choices in their daily lives.

  • The Reminder: The Koran confirms and reminds the world of the teachings of past Prophets. The stories of the Prophets form an essential part of the Koran’s narrative.

  • Spiritual healing: The Book helps Muslims turn away from their lower passions, towards the higher aspirations of worshiping and obeying God.

    The Koran presents a personal relationship with the Divine, a God-consciousness that elevates the soul and frees the mind from moral diseases, such as materialism, jealousy, and anger.

  • Social change: The Scripture serves as roadmap for social change built on social justice, economic equity, racial harmony, human rights, and dignity. The Koran calls the Muslim community to actively enjoin that which is right, good, and just, and to struggle against that which is wrong, evil, and unjust.

Basic features of the Koran

The Koran, Islam’s holy scripture, details the tenets of the religion quite differently than the Bible explores Christian beliefs. Keep these features of the Koran in mind when reading the scripture:

  • The oral tradition: The Koran’s oral tradition gives the Book its aura. The recited word of the Koran is much more powerful than its printed form, especially if the text has been translated from Arabic into another language.

  • The non-linear approach: The Koran doesn’t follow a systematic historical or thematic approach. Rather, stories from the past, laws, and moral teachings drive the Book’s narrative.

  • The non-historical story: The Koran doesn’t include specifics of history, including times, places, and lineage. The moral of the story, which transcends time and space, trumps the details of history.

Quotes from the Koran on major themes

The Koran, the holy book of Islam, includes some iconic passages and quotes known by most Muslims and those of other religions as well. The Koranic passages, with chapter and verse in parentheses) in the following list offer a glimpse of some major themes presented in the Koran:

  • God: “Say, He is God, the One. God, the Eternal, Absolute. He gives not birth, nor is He born. And there is none like unto Him (Surah 112).”

  • Prophets: “Say, we believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in the Books given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets from their Sustainer. We make no distinction between one and another (3:84).”

  • Beliefs and actions: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Day of Judgment, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers. To spend of your sustenance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the freeing of slaves. To be steadfast in prayer, and give purifying alms. To fulfill the contracts which you have made. And to be firm and patient, in suffering and adversity, and through all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-conscious (2:177).”

  • Mankind and life: “By the time, verily, man is in loss, except those who have faith and do righteous deeds, and join together in the mutual enjoining of truth, and of patience and perseverance (Surah 103).”

  • The Day of Accountability: “When the earth is shaken to her convulsion, and the earth throws up her burdens, and man cries ‘What is the matter with her?’ On that day will she declare her tidings, for your Sustainer will have given her inspiration. On that day will men proceed in groups to be shown deeds that they have done. Then anyone who has one atom’s weight of good shall see it. And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it (Surah 99).”

  • Human relations: “O mankind! We created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know each other. Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is [the one who] is most conscious of God. And God has full knowledge and is fully aware (49:13).”

  • Gender relations: “The believers, men and women, are friends of one another. They enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil. They observe regular prayers, pay purifying alms, and obey God and His Messenger. On them God will pour His Mercy, for God is Exalted in power, and is Wise (9:71).”

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Sohaib Sultan is a freelance journalist and student of the Islamic tradition who has studied the Koran and Islam extensively with Islamic scholars in the United States and Saudi Arabia.

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