The story of the Quran began in Mecca. The Quraysh took control of the city in the 5th. century and began trading there. The traditional trade routes were transitioning from the threatened sea routes of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea to overland. So Mecca became an important staging town on the land route to Petra and Palmyra. Trade from Africa and the Far East passed through Mecca, where they received water and pasture, on the way to Syria. The goods traded included spices, leather, medicine, cloth and slaves.
The city's economic importance declined with the loss of the caravan route but it took on religious influence and became a sanctuary for pagan deities. Muslim tradition dates the ongoing revelations of the Quran to a trader in Mecca called Muhammed, beginning in 610. Eight years after fleeing the city the prophet returned in 630 to take control. He rid it of idols and declared it a centre of Muslim pilgrimage. The angel Jibreel (Gabriel) recited quranic verses to him up until his death in 632.
The Quran recognises that in Muhammad's time there were Jews and Christians in the Arabian Peninsula. They are named as 'People of the Scriptures'. The Quran also recognises that those books were inspired by Allah and that Islam is a continuation of the teaching of the biblical prophets before Muhammed.
Surah 3:3 "He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel."
The sunni theologian in 11th. century Spain, Ibn-Hazm, postulated that the Bible had been corrupted because its teachings opposed Islam:
"But Muhammad tells us to respect the Gospel. Therefore, the present text must have been falsified by the Christians."
The Quran presents itself as a uncorrupted version of the previous prophets' messages:
Surah 7:157 "Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honour him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful."
Islamic tradition affirms that the Quran was compiled into a book by Abu Bakr, Muhammed's father-in-law and the first caliph of Islam. He commanded the scribe Zayd ibn Thabit to organise the written Quran, relying upon both textual fragments and the memories of those who had memorized. It was recompiled for recitation under the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (c. 644–656). As Arabic spelling developed into the second century variant oral readings of the consonantal skeleton were documented in Quranic manuscripts. The scholar, Dr. Gerd Puin, lecturer in Arabic language and literature at Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany, was employed by the Yemini government to assess their palimpsest Sanaa manuscript. He found that the text had evolved through variation, reordering chapters, spelling styles and stories written before Muhammed. Puin was later denied access to the manuscript.
The Quran is structured according to 114 surahs (chapters) of unequal length and divided into ayahs (verses). The shortest surah (Al-Kawthar) has three verses; the longest (Al-Baqara) 286 verses.
The surah list:
1. Al-Fatiha The Opening
2. Al-Baqarah The Cow
3. Al Imran The Family of Imran
4. An-Nisa The Women
5. Al-Ma'idah The Table Spread with Food
6. Al-An'am The Cattle
7. Al-A'raf The Heights
8. Al-Anfal The Spoils of War
9. At-Tawbah The Repentance
10. Yunus Jonah
11. Hud Hud
12. Yusuf Joseph
13. Ar-Ra'd The Thunder
14. Ibrahim Abraham
15. Al-Hijr. The Rocky Tract
16. An-Nah The Honey Bees
17. Al-Isra The Journey by Night
18. Al-Kahf. The Cave
19. Maryam Mary
20. Ta-Ha Ta Ha
21. Al-Anbiya The Prophets
22. Al-Hajj The Pilgrimage
23. Al-Mu'minun The Believers
24. An-Nur The Light
25. Al-Furqan The Criterion
26. Ash-Shu'ara The Poets
27. An-Naml The Ants
28. Al-Qasas The Narration
29. Al-Ankabut The Spider (female)
30. Ar-Rum The Romans
31. Luqman Luqman
32. As-Sajdah The Prostration
33. Al-Ahzab The Confederates
34. Saba Sheba
35. Fatir The Originator of Creation
36. Ya Sin Ya Sin
37. As-Saffat Those Ranged in Ranks
38. Sad Letter Sad
39. Az-Zumar The Groups
40. Ghafir The Forgiver (God)
41. Fussilat They are Explained in Detail
42. Ash-Shura The Consultations
43. Az-Zukhruf The Gold Adornments
44. Ad-Dukhan The Smoke
45. Al-Jathiya The Kneeling
46. Al-Ahqaf The Curved Sand-Hills
47. Muhammad Muhammad (SAW)
48. Al-Fath The Victory
49. Al-Hujurat The Dwellings
50. Qaf Letter Qaf
51. Adh-Dhariyat The Wind that Scatter
52. At-Tur The Mount
53. An-Najm The Star
54. Al-Qamar The Moon
55. Ar-Rahman The Most Gracious
56. Al-Waqi'ah The Event
57. Al-Hadid The Iron
58. Al-Mujadila The Woman Who Disputes
59. Al-Hashr The Gathering
60. Al-Mumtahanah The Woman to be examined
61. As-Saff The Row or Rank
62. Al-Jumu'ah Friday
63. Al-Munafiqun The Hypocrites
64. At-Taghabun Mutual Loss and Gain
65. At-Talaq The Divorce
66. At-Tahrim The Prohibition
67. Al-Mulk The Dominion
68. Al-Qalam The Pen
69. Al-Haqqah The Inevitable
70. Al-Ma'arij The Ways of Ascent
71. Nuh Noah
72. Al-Jinn The Jinn
73. Al-Muzzammil The One Wraped in Garments
74. Al-Muddaththir The One Enveloped
75. Al-Qiyamah The Resurrection
76. Al-Insan The Human
77. Al-Mursalat Those sent forth
78. An-Naba' The Great News
79. An-Nazi'at Those Who Pull Out
80. 'Abasa He Frowned
81. At-Takwir Wound Round and Lost its Light
82. Al-Infitar The Cleaving
83. Al-Mutaffifin Those Who Deal in Fraud
84. Al-Inshiqaq The Splitting Asunder
85. Al-Buruj The Big Stars
86. At-Tariq The Night Commer
87. Al-A'la The Most High
88. Al-Ghashiyah The Overwhelming
89. Al-Fajr The Break of Day or The Dawn
90. Al-Balad The City
91. Ash-Shams The Sun
92. Al-Layl The Night
93. Ad-Dhuha The Forenoon
94. Ash-Sharh The Opening Forth
95. At-Tin The Fig
96. Al-Alaq The Clot
97. Al-Qadr The Night of Decree
98. Al-Bayyinah The Clear Evidence
99. Az-Zalzalah The Earthquake
100. Al-Adiyat Those That Run
101. Al-Qari'ah The Striking Hour
102. At-Takathur The Piling Up
103. Al-Asr The Time
104. Al-Humazah The Slanderer
105. Al-Fil The Elephant
106. Quraysh Quraysh
107. Al-Ma'un The Small Kindness
108. Al-Kawthar Abundance, Plenty
109. Al-Kafirun The Disbelievers
110. An-Nasr The Help
111. Al-Lahab The Palm Fibre
112. Al-Ikhlas The Purity
113. Al-Falaq The Daybreak
114. An-Nas Mankind
There are correspondences between Bible and Quran narratives. The Quran uses the stories to make moral points, assuming that readers already know the details.
The Pentateuch Narratives
- Adam and Eve. God tells Adam to name the animals in the Bible; Allah teaches Adam the names of all things in the Quran.
Eve is created from Adam's rib in the Bible. The Woman has no name in the Quran but both humans were created from one soul. There is also a reference to the rib story in the Quran.
There is no mention in the Quran of the forbidden tree.
The tempter in the Bible is the serpent; in the Quran it is Satan.
Man is created in the image of God; in the Quran Allah tells the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam, but Satan refuses.
- The Cain and Abel (Qābīl and Hābīl) story is common to both texts.
- The Flood story is narrated by both texts with some differences:
The Qur'an tells of a dialogue between Noah and the wicked; the Bible does not mention dialogue.
In the Quran Noah has a son who rejects him and drowns. In the biblical story Noah's family are all faithful.
Both narratives tell how the ark comes to rest on the same mountain range.
- Abraham (Ibrāhīm) is promised a son in both texts.
In Genesis Isaac is the sacrificial son, but the Quran is ambiguous.
God speaks directly to Abraham in the biblical version, but through a vision in the Quran.
In the Qur'an Abraham tells his son that he will sacrifice him. In the Bible, Abraham tells Isaac that God will provide the sacrifice.
- Sodom and Gomorrah
In the Quran, Lot is a prophet. In Genesis Lot invites two angels home.
The Biblical story tells how Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. In the Quran his wife does not leave the town.
Both texts ask God to show mercy. The Bible persuades God to spare the city for 10 righteous men; in the Quran God tells Abraham not to plead for mercy.
- Joseph (Yusuf) stories are in both texts.
The Bible story focuses on freeing the Israelites from slavery. In The Quran narrative Moses persuades the Pharaoh to convert to monotheism.
Aaron takes the lead in the Bible story; Moses is leader in the Quran, with Aaron's' backing.
In Exodus Aaron helps make the golden calf. In The Quran Aaron opposes the idea.
The Pharaoh drowns in both narratives.
Other Old Testament/Quran corresponding stories:
Gideon, Saul, David and Goliath, The Queen of Sheba, Jonah and the big fish, Haman.
New Testament narratives
Mary ("Maryam") is mentioned in both texts.
The Quran includes brief descriptions in common with the Bible:
He brought the dead to life.
He is the Messiah (the Christ).
He had disciples.
His disciples were successful over disbelievers.
He healed the blind and lepers.
He was filled with the Holy Spirit.
He is alive in heaven now.
The Qur'an and Bible both mention over 50 people in common, usually in the same narratives.
Jesus is portrayed in the Quran as a prophet without sin and fruit of a virgin birth. Yahya preceeded him and he was succeeded by Muhammad. Jesus is also mentioned as the messiah about nine times.
Jesus raised people from the dead by the will of Allah in the Muslim narrative and also performed many miracles.
Jesus did not die on a cross but was saved by God, according to the Quran. Neither was he a divinity, nor did he claim to be God.
Isa will have a Second Coming at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus to kill the false Messiah. He will reign over the world and establish peace for 40 years then be buried in the Green Dome, Medina.
Tawhid is the concept of monotheism in Islam. The first part of the Islamic confession of faith is a declaration of the oneness of Allah. The God of Islam is universal, absolute and integrates all affirmative values.
The intellectual history of the Musim faith in theology, jurisprudence, philosophy and sciences investigate the tawhid principle.
Surah Al-Ikhlas and Surah Al-Lahab form a pair, which complement each other in the explanation of monotheism in the Quran:
He is Allah, [who is] One Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born. Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (
Both chapters were probably pronounced before Muhammed's flight from Mecca since they insist on a doctrine of Tawhid and predict the elimination of polytheism. The natives of the city objected strongly to Muhammed's criticism of their gods and he was forced to flee to Medina. When he returned to conquer the city, polytheists, as well as Christians and Jews, were forced to recognise the Islamic faith.
'Covenant' is a contract between two parties. The divine covenant offers benefits to mankind in return for obedience to God's laws. However the Quran meaning can extend to an obligation on humans by the divinity without reciprocity.
In the first divine Covenant with Adam, described in Surah 7, all of humanity were included in the Covenant and pledged submission to Allah. This means that on the Day of the Resurrection nobody can claim that they were not cognisant of the need for obedience in order to enter paradise.
In order to remind humanity of their Covenant with Allah prophets renewed the contracts. These included Abraham, Moses, Jesus and finally, Mohammad. The Quran views all monotheistic communities as included in the divine Covenants.
Jews and Christians broke their Covenants, according to the Quran, but the prophet Mohamed has called all believers back to the original contract of obedience to the divinity.
Death and Resurrection
"(It is He) Who created death and life that He may try you- which of you is best in deeds; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving."
The core Christian kerygma is that Christ died on the cross to atone for sin and rose again on the third day.
Muslims deny that Christ was crucified, instead the Quran insists it was Judas or Simon of Cyrene who died. Congruently, neither do they believe in Christ's resurrection, nor that there was an atonement motive for his death.
Surah 75, Al-Qiyamah (The Day of Resurrection) is a promise by Allah that mankind will be resurrected after death on the Day of the Resurrection:
“That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds. So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it."
"They ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about the spirit. Say, “Its nature is known only to my Lord, and you ˹O humanity˺ have been given but little knowledge.”
When Adam was created, Allah breathed the divine spirit into him and he lived. The human soul possesses an asset: free will. This provided the potential to improve spiritually towards virtue, but also the option to follow carnal desires.
The soul is the secret of life in the body. When death occurs the soul leaves the body. Souls do not perish. In eternal life both body and soul come together in paradise or hell.
"... when I reached the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, ‘Open (the gate).’ The gatekeeper asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel answered: ‘Gabriel.’ He asked, ‘Is there anyone with you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Yes, Muhammad I is with me.’ He asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel said, ‘Yes.’ So the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked toward his left he wept.”