Ezra's Tomb

Ezra’s tomb is located on the west bank of the Tigris River at Al Azair (Al Uzayr), some 60 miles north of Basra, in what was the northeastern corner of the Central Marsh. It has long been a revered site, having been visited as long ago as the twelfth century by Benjamin of Tudela, Pethahiah of Regensburg and the poet, Yehuda Al-Harizi.  It was described by Pethahiah as a tomb with a synagogue on one side and a mosque on the other.

According to Al-Harizi, a local shepherd had a dream that a holy person was buried nearby.  After the dream recurred several times, he told his friends about it.  To prove the veracity of his account, he showed them he could see again with an eye that had been blinded.  On digging at the place in the dream, an iron coffin was found with unknown characters inscribed on it.  There were interpreted by a Hebrew scribe to read, “Ezra, the Priest.”  So they ferried the remains across the river and re-interred them at Al Azair where, ever since according to Al-Harizi, a light has shined over them at night.

Ezra, a lineal descendant of Aaron, was a Hebrew high priest of the fifth century BCE.  He was also a scribe and a scholar and is sometimes credited with writing the Biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah as well as a part of Chronicles.  Tradition has it that he collected and edited the Old Testament canon, putting it into modern form.

Like King Josiah (639-608 BCE), Ezra was deeply involved in reforming Judaism.  He was a leader of the second group of Jews who returned from Babylonian exile in 459 BCE.  When they reached Jerusalem, Ezra was appalled at what he saw and set about reconstituting the religion.   With the Age of Prophecy drawing to a close, he established the supremacy of Torah and in particular the Oral Law to make Judaism a religion in which the law was central.  He also adopted the square Assyrian script which is still in use today.  With some justice, Ezra has been called the father of Judaism since his efforts did much to give Jewish religion a lasting form.

Not much is known of the life of Ezra.  The Bible records that, in 445 BCE, he appeared at the dedication of the reconstructed walls of Jerusalem and read the law aloud to the people.  There’s no record after that.  Josephus wrote that he was buried in Jerusalem but both the time and place of his death are unknown.

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CAROLINE E. KENNEDY________________________


9/15/2006 5:04am

RE: Sophia of Wisdom of Laws of All Faiths

- He was called the Father of Judaism (Atra-hasis flood)
- He wrote Book of Judges
- He wrote Book of Ezra
- He wrote Book 1 Chron including 5 books of Moses
- He wrote 94 books in 40 days (Jorge Luis Borges he worked as fast)
- Condemned intermarriages
(because Carolyn did not follow the laws which protect the universe)
(Carolyn touched Ezra after he was buried and got coodies. Coodies are a curse that are emmbedded bugs which get in to everything in your house and your body. I have seem them before. They go away but you will remember that you had them.)(If you have done bad things they will follow you and John got them in the folds of his penis and cut the fore skin off himself.)

- Yemenite Jews who had converted to Islam who previously had believed that Ezra was the Messiah.
- Ezra in standard Hebrew - Ariel (Artist) Carlo Crivelli - Leonardo Da Vinci - Rembrandt
These are artists I became after being EZRA
- He led 5000 Israelite exiles living in Babylon to Jerusalem. It took 4 months in the desert. 459BCE
- Erza, a lineal descendant of Aaron, was a Hebrew high preist of the 5th BCE. This makes him 500yr old.
- Erza in the Quran = Uzair Jews = Uzair = A son of God Allah in Yemen believed that Uzayr was indeed the SON OF GOD.

According to the Atra-hasis & The Flood a God of Wisdom (GESHTU-E)was slaughter to make 7 men & 7 women which where mixed with clay
to create slaves.

GODDESS CAROLYN BESSETTE KENNEDY (MAMI)was allowed to use powers she could not handle so JOHN could make a fool out of her in history since she stole our future with full intent.

She was responsible for carving EZRA's body and took great pleasure in doing this because she knew it was me in a former life. A GHOST rose from the body and said now the CREATURE you call man will be MORTAL & DIVINE...............

- Ezra is THE HOLY GHOST who was to never die but live in HEAVEN and we have no one there because of this and this is why things are so crazy.
- Also The cutting device she used is now considered

The 1st SPEAR OF DESTINY of Ezra which BELONGS TO:

Sophia of Wisdom III
Caroline E. Kennedy

There are four more that were made by Carolyn Bassette Kennedy all were used to recut up EZRA by going back in time 4 more times.

This is the case in THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMBINGS they did it 5 TIMES. They couldn't go back any more because the time defference was to much to believe.

John new the POWERS of the Spears and he kept all 4 and this is what drove him crazy with POWER and destroyed the UNIVERSE for her. He even died on the CROSS for her SINS and her SINS ALONE.

She poured SPIKENARD which is ANOINTING OIL for KINGS which cost $20,000.00 back then and she didn't understand he was above KINGS. He was in line from his mother Mary Magadelene - The Virgin Mary to be a SCRIBE and ENFORCER of all LAWS of FAITH with the SPEARS OF DESTINY.

A local shepard had a dream that a HOLY PERSON was buried nearby in his dream an iron coffin was found EZRA the Priest, His body was taken to Al Azair, A light has shines over the site at night.

Josephus wrote that he was buired in Jeruslaem but both the time and place of his death are unknown..............

It was described by Pethahiah as a tomb with a synagogue on one side and a mosque on the other.


You are now considered
on this day

Sep 14, 2006

A Sophia of Wisdom of Law for all Faiths
The God of All Gods

Sophia of Wisdom III
Caroline E. Kennedy

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Ezra's Tomb

Ezra’s tomb is located on the west bank of the Tigris River at Al Azair (Al Uzayr), some 60 miles north of Basra, in what was the northeastern corner of the Central Marsh. It has long been a revered site, having been visited as long ago as the twelfth century by Benjamin of Tudela, Pethahiah of Regensburg and the poet, Yehuda Al-Harizi.  It was described by Pethahiah as a tomb with a synagogue on one side and a mosque on the other.

According to Al-Harizi, a local shepherd had a dream that a holy person was buried nearby.  After the dream recurred several times, he told his friends about it.  To prove the veracity of his account, he showed them he could see again with an eye that had been blinded.  On digging at the place in the dream, an iron coffin was found with unknown characters inscribed on it.  There were interpreted by a Hebrew scribe to read, “Ezra, the Priest.”  So they ferried the remains across the river and re-interred them at Al Azair where, ever since according to Al-Harizi, a light has shined over them at night.

Ezra, a lineal descendant of Aaron, was a Hebrew high priest of the fifth century BCE.  He was also a scribe and a scholar and is sometimes credited with writing the Biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah as well as a part of Chronicles.  Tradition has it that he collected and edited the Old Testament canon, putting it into modern form.

Like King Josiah (639-608 BCE), Ezra was deeply involved in reforming Judaism.  He was a leader of the second group of Jews who returned from Babylonian exile in 459 BCE.  When they reached Jerusalem, Ezra was appalled at what he saw and set about reconstituting the religion.   With the Age of Prophecy drawing to a close, he established the supremacy of Torah and in particular the Oral Law to make Judaism a religion in which the law was central.  He also adopted the square Assyrian script which is still in use today.  With some justice, Ezra has been called the father of Judaism since his efforts did much to give Jewish religion a lasting form.

Not much is known of the life of Ezra.  The Bible records that, in 445 BCE, he appeared at the dedication of the reconstructed walls of Jerusalem and read the law aloud to the people.  There’s no record after that.  Josephus wrote that he was buried in Jerusalem but both the time and place of his death are unknown.

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CAROLINE E. KENNEDY________________________________

NOVEMBER 17, 2006

Atra-Hasis and the Flood

(This tale from Babylonia, dated ca. 1700 BCE, is the longest
and most comprehensive of the Mesopotamian Flood stories.)

Retold and Condensed by James W. Bell

In the beginning, before men were created, the Anunnaki €“ the gods living on the earth €“ had to till the land and water it to grow their food. They found the work tiresome and too much trouble.

So they gave Enlil lordship of the earth. He summoned the Igigi, calling down from heaven the lesser gods, lower divinities without names, to do the work.

Besides tilling the soil, Enlil assigned to the Igigi the additional tasks of digging canals, river beds and keeping their channels clear. For thousands of years, the Igigi toiled for the Anunnaki. It was too much! They downed their tools and went as a group to the Ekur, Enlil™s citadel at Nippur, to demand relief.

When the Igigi arrived before Enlil€™s stronghold, he ordered his doorkeeper, Nusku, to bar the gate to keep them out. But Nusku asked, €œWhy has your face become as pale as the tamarisk? Why do you fear your sons? Call the other gods and let them help solve this thing.€

So Enlil summoned the others, including Anu from heaven, and Enki, lord of the Abzu. Together, they stood on the ramparts of the Ekur and addressed the besiegers. Why do you attack us?

The Igigi answered as one, €œThe work you have assigned us is killing; we can no longer bear it. We have put a stop to digging and declared war.

Then Enki took the gods inside to counsel them. €œWhy do we blame the Igigi? Their tasks are too hard.

Look, he continued,


Let her create mortals, creatures to be our servants and to do our work. Then we can put the yoke of Enlil on these beings and let the Igigi return to heaven.

The gods agreed and asked Mami to produce such creatures. But the Goddess of Midwifery demurred. It is not prudent for me to attempt all this. Choose Enki instead, because he is wise and makes things right. If he will prepare clay suitable to the task, I will birth it.

Enki responded, €œIf we use pure clay to make these new creatures, they will be like the animals, without intelligence. To make them capable of bearing the yoke of Enlil, we must slay one of the gods so his flesh and blood can be mixed with the clay to be made into a man. Then what we create will be god and man mixed together.€

The gods seized Geshtu-e, a god of wisdom, and slaughtered him.

When his flesh and blood were taken and mixed with the clay,
a ghost came into being so that none should ever forget him, or fail to remember that the new creature called man was part mortal and part divine. ******(THIS IS EZRA=HOLY GHOST)

Mami took the mixture and pinched off fourteen pieces, to create seven males and seven females. She presented them to the Anunnaki, saying, €œI have done all you asked. You have slain a god of intelligence and mixed his flesh and blood with clay so I could engender men. I relieve you of wearisome work by imposing your yoke upon them. I have also bestowed upon them the ability to use the spoken word, so they may call to one another to help fulfill their tasks. Let each man choose a woman to wive so Ishtar can bless them with healthy children, to fill the earth with generations upon generations of servants.€

It was in this manner and for these reasons that man was created.

Twelve hundred years went by and the people grew numerous. The land became filled with them and their unceasing clamor. Enlil said, The noise men make has become too much; I am losing sleep. Let Namtar come up from the depths of the Netherworld and distribute disease among them, so that their numbers and uproar may be reduced.

The Herald of Death strewed sickness back and forth across the countryside and many died. A wise man in Shuruppak, by name of Atra-hasis, called upon Enki. ********(THIS IS SAINT JOHN OF WISDOM III - ST. JOHN THE DIVINE MESSENGER AKA JFK,JR.=ENKI) THEY USED THE BEVTRON TO MAKE COPIES OF JFK,JR.

€œHow long are the gods going to plague us? Will illness and death afflict us forever?€

Enki advised Atra-hasis, Call together the elders. Speak to them; tell them to not worship their gods or take them offerings. Instead, let them build a house for Namtar in Shuruppak and let each household bake a loaf of fresh bread and take it to his door.

The people listened and did as Enki advised. Namtar's house was filled with fresh bread and surrounded with its pleasant aroma. The Herald of Death was shamed by the multitude of offerings. He drew back his hand so that disease abated. The people regained their health and the land returned to prosperity.

Another twelve hundred years passed and the people again became numerous. The Earth grew crowded and filled with a terrific din. Enlil said, Once more, the noise made by men is causing me to lose sleep.
Let™s cut off their food. Let my son, Ninurta, shut the sluice gates of heaven so that drought comes. Let crops fail and the people perish.

When drought had held the land in its grip for six years and the people had become famished, Atra-hasis again went to Enki for help. Call together the elders,€ the god said. €œTell them not to worship their gods or make offerings to them. Instead, build a house for Ninurta. Then let each household take of what flour they have and bake a loaf of fresh bread to take to his door.

Again, the people followed Enki€™s advice. Ninurta™s house was filled with fresh bread and surrounded by its pleasant aroma. The young god knew bread was scarce and, though he was Enlil™s son, he was greatly shamed by the precious offerings given him by starving men, so he opened the clouds and let the rain fall. But nothing grew, for the land turned bitter and became encrusted with salt.

In the seventh year, when people began to eat their young, Atra-hasis went to Enki again. We have no more flour to make bread. It rains, but the land no longer grows our crops. Will this scourge never end?

Call together the elders. Tell them to not worship their gods, nor make them offerings nor say prayers nor sing them songs of praise. Let the earth be as it was in the beginning; before men existed, when the gods struggled to grow their own food. Let the gods pick up their tools again and go back to tilling the land, without offerings or praise. Let them suffer.

It was too much for the gods. Faint with hunger, they yearned to hear prayerful supplications and listen to sweet songs of praise. They relented and allowed Enki to cleanse the earth with sweet water drawn from the depths of the Abzu. With his pure water, he washed away the salt and made the land fertile again.

But, in another twelve hundred years, what had happened before occurred again. The people grew more numerous than ever and earth was filled with their shouting and curses. Enlil said, €œI cannot sleep because of the bellowing of men, but I cannot bring them under control because of my brother, Enki. He protects them. Because he created them, they are his children. I will see him about this.€

So Enlil went to Enki and said, €œYou persuaded us to kill a god and used your power to create men. You imposed our yoke upon them but you also had Mami gift them with the spoken word. What you did was wrong, for men use their power to shout and curse and argue with each other. Now, you must swear an oath to correct the wrong you have caused. You must use your power against your creation and create a Flood to rid the earth of men.

Enki replied, Why should I swear an oath? And why should I use my power against my people? The Flood you mentioned, how do I have the power to give birth to such a thing? That€™s work for you, Enlil, and your son, Ninurta. If you wish a Flood, then tell Ninurta to let it rain till the dams overflow and drown the land.

Enlil was furious with Enki. €œThen, I shall see it done myself; I will see that the Flood covers the earth. But, brother, you and all the Anunnaki, must promise not to try to obstruct what I am about to undertake; you must not warn men of my plan.

With the other Anunnaki, Enki took an oath that he would not tell Enlil™s plan to any human.

That night, Enki went out and sat beside the reed wall of Atra-hasis€™s house. He spoke aloud, saying, €œWall, listen to me! Reed hut, make sure you hear my words! Take this house apart and build a boat. Leave your worldly possessions behind and take aboard living things. Build the boat two stories high and pitch it with bitumen to make it strong and waterproof. For a flood will come that will last seven days and seven nights and the land will be under water.

Now, as Enki spoke, Atra-hasis was inside his house and overheard everything the god said. The next day he hired carpenters and reed workers to tear down his house and build the boat the god described. The workmen ate and drank as they worked but Atra-hasis kept his distance, for his heart was breaking over those he knew would soon be drowned and he was vomiting bile.

The day arrived when Ninurta
bellowed from the clouds and the face of the weather changed. The winds came and Atra-hasis hurried his family and animals inside the boat. Then he cut the mooring rope and had bitumen handed up to seal the door.

The sky turned dark so no one could see anyone else. The flood roared toward them like a bull and, like a wild ass, the winds screamed overhead. There was no sun and darkness hid the land. Ninurta opened the clouds and water poured over the land. The goddess Mami watched the storm from above and wept for her people. €œWhat father would have given birth to a raging sea?€ she asked Enlil. The other gods and goddesses wept with Mami.

After the seventh night, Enlil ordered his son to stop the rain. As the waters receded, corpses were left strewn about like drowned dragonflies.

But, then, a sweet aroma from an offering went up and attracted the gods. They hovered overhead to catch the fragrance and Enlil spotted Atra-hasis and his boat. €œHow could anyone have survived the catastrophe?€ he asked. €œNo form of life should have escaped. Who, but Enki, would have done this? My brother has broken his oath!€

Enki heard Enlil and answered, €œAtra-hasis must have overheard me when worry caused me to talk aloud to myself. I did this in defiance of you, Enlil, to make sure life was preserved. But I never told him; I did not break my oath.€

€œMen multiply continually,€ Enlil said. €œAgain and again they crowd the earth and fill it with noise. I seek only to stop them so I€™ll have peace. Why do you continue to defy me?€

€œBecause, brother, if you destroyed men to rid the earth of noise, who would be left to grow our food? It would be as it was in the beginning.€

Enlil perceived the wisdom in Enki€™s answer and he was shamed. €œThen, what is to be done?€ he asked. €œIf nothing is changed, in another twelve hundred years, there will be too many people again.€

Enki said, €œTo prevent that from ever happening again, let the gods decree that a third of the women shall be barren and another third shall be unsuccessful in childbirth. In addition, let the women in the temples be made taboo, so they too will not bear children. By decreeing this, the gods will continue to have men for their servants but there will never be too many again, and the gods and men will live together evermore at peace.€

Enlil rejoiced at hearing his brother€™s resolution and praised him for his astuteness.

James W. Bell€™s
Ancient Sumeria


Abzu €“ (also Apsu) the fresh water in rivers and beneath the ground.
Anu €“ (An in Sumerian) the chief god in heaven, father of the gods on the
Anunnaki €“ (sometimes Anunna) the gods who lived on the Earth.
Atra-hasis €“ (also Atrahasis, Utnapishtim, Ziusudra) the wise man of
Shuruppak who saved mankind in the Flood.
Ekur €“ (literally €œmountain house€) Enlil€™s citadel in Nippur, located on the
upper Euphrates River.
Enki €“ (Ea in Akkadian) Enlil€™s brother; God of the Abzu, the wisest and
craftiest of the major gods on earth.
Enlil €“ (Ellil in Akkadian) Enki€™s brother; God of the Air, the most power-
ful of the major gods on earth.
Geshtu-e €“ an unknown god, possibly a Sumerian play on words.
Igigi €“ the lesser gods in heaven without individual names.
Ishtar €“ (Inanna in Sumerian) Goddess of Love and War, represented by
Venus, the evening / morning star.
Mami €“ (Ninhursag, Ninmah and Nintu in Sumerian) The Earth Goddess;

Mother Nature.
Namtar €“ (also Namtara) Herald of Death; son of Ereshkigal, Queen of the
Netherworld €“ a dark, dismal place underground where the dead spend
Ninurta €“ (also Adad) Enlil€™s son, a young storm god who rode the clouds.
Nippur €“ an ancient Sumerian city on the upper Euphrates River; a holy
city much like today€™s Mecca.
Nusku €“ Enlil€™s vizier and doorkeeper of the Ekur.
Shuruppak €“ an ancient city on the Euphrates River, midway between Nip-
pur and Ur.

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CAROLINE E. KENNEDY________________________

JAN 29, 2007




Production and usage of a Torah scroll
Manuscript Torah scrolls are still used, and still written, for ritual purposes (i.e. religious services); this is called a Sefer Torah ("Book [of] Torah"). They are written using a painstakingly careful methodology by highly qualified scribes. This has resulted in modern copies of the text that are almost unchanged from millennia old copies. The reason for such care is it is believed that every word, or marking, has divine meaning, and that not one part may be inadvertently changed lest it lead to error. The text of the Torah can also be found in books, which are mass-printed in the usual way for individual use, often containing both the Hebrew text and a translation in the language of publication. For more details on production of ritual scrolls, see the article Sefer Torah.

Printed versions of the Torah in normal book form (codex) are known as a Chumash (plural Chumashim) ("[Book of] Five or Fifths"). They are treated as respected texts, but not anywhere near the level of sacredness accorded a Sefer Torah, which is often a major possession of a Jewish community. A chumash contains the Torah and other writings, usually organized for liturgical use, and sometimes accompanied by some of the main classic commentaries on individual verses and word choices, for the benefit of the reader.

All Torah scrolls are stored in the holiest part of the synagogue in the Ark known as the "Holy Ark" ( aron hakodesh in Hebrew.) Aron in Hebrew means cupboard or closet and Kodesh is derived from 'Kadosh', or 'holy'.

Torah Shebikhtav, or Written Torah

The Torah as the core of Judaism

Ashkenazi Torah scrollThe Torah is the primary document of Judaism. According to Jewish tradition it was revealed to Moses by God.

Classical rabbinic writings offer various ideas on when the entire Torah was revealed. The revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai is considered by many to be the most important revelatory event. According to datings of the text by Orthodox rabbis this occurred in 1280 BCE. Some rabbinic sources state that the entire Torah was given all at once at this event. In the maximalist belief, this dictation included not only the "quotes" which appear in the text, but every word of the text itself, including phrases such as "And God spoke to Moses...", and included God telling Moses about Moses' own death and what would happen afterward.

Other classical rabbinic sources hold that the Torah was revealed to Moses over many years, and finished only at his death. Another school of thought holds that although Moses wrote the vast majority of the Torah, a number of sentences throughout the Torah must have been written after his death by another prophet, presumably Joshua. Abraham ibn Ezra and Joseph Bonfils observed that some phrases in the Torah present information that people should only have known after the time of Moses. Ibn Ezra hinted, and Bonfils explicitly stated, that Joshua (or perhaps some later prophet) wrote these sections of the Torah. Other rabbis would not accept this belief.

The Talmud (tractate Sabb. 115b) states that a peculiar section in the Book of Numbers (10:35 — 36, surrounded by inverted Hebrew letter nuns) in fact forms a separate book. On this verse a midrash on the book of Mishle (also called Proverbs) states that "These two verses stem from an independent book which existed, but was suppressed!" Another (possibly earlier) midrash, Ta'ame Haserot Viyterot, states that this section actually comes from the book of prophecy of Eldad and Medad. The Talmud says that God dictated four books of the Torah, but that Moses wrote Deuteronomy in his own words (Talmud Bavli, Meg. 31b). All classical beliefs, nonetheless, hold that the Torah was entirely or almost entirely Mosaic and of divine origin.

For more information on these issues from an Orthodox Jewish perspective, see Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations, Ed. Shalom Carmy, and Handbook of Jewish Thought, Volume I, by Aryeh Kaplan.

In contrast, modern historians conclude that the origin of the Torah indeed came from this time-frame, but developed in different strands, which were eventually redacted together sometime around 400 BCE, the time of Ezra the scribe. These beliefs are accepted as correct by Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism. Rabbis in these denominations have developed a number of theories about God and revelation which reject a secular interpretation of the documentary hypothesis, accept that the Torah was written by Moses and later prophets under divine inspiration, and which also strive to be in accord with historical consensus.

There is very little support for higher biblical criticism in Modern Orthodox Judaism, and absolutely none in Haredi Judaism and Hasidic Judaism. Applying the techniques of higher criticism to books of the Bible other than the Torah is frowned upon, but applying these techniques to the Torah itself is usually considered to be both mistaken and heretical. As such, the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Judaism believes the documentary hypothesis to be heretical. Orthodox rabbis well-known for taking issue with documentary hypothesis include Meir Leibush Malbim and Samson Raphael Hirsch.

The divine meaning of even individual words and letters
The Rabbis hold that not only are the words giving a Divine message, but indicate a far greater message that extends beyond them. Thus they hold that even as small a mark as a kotzo shel yod ( ), the serif of the Hebrew letter yod (), the smallest letter, or decorative markings, or repeated words, were put there by God to teach scores of lessons. This is regardless of whether that yod appears in the phrase "I am the Lord thy God," or whether it appears in "And God spoke unto Moses saying." In a similar vein, Rabbi Akiva, who died in 135 CE, is said to have learned a new law from every et () in the Torah (Talmud, tractate Pesachim 22b); the word et is meaningless by itself, and serves only to mark the accusative case. In other words, the Orthodox belief is that even apparently contextual text "And God spoke unto Moses saying..." is no less important than the actual statement.

One kabbalistic interpretation is that the Torah constitutes one long name of God, and that it was broken up into words so that human minds can understand it. While this is effective since it accords with our human reason, it is not the only way that the text can be broken up.

The Biblical Hebrew language is sometimes referred to as "the flame alphabet" because many devout Jews believe that the Torah is the literal word of God written in fire.

The Torah and the Oral Law
See also: Oral Torah
Many Jewish laws are not directly mentioned in the Torah, but are derived from textual hints, which were expanded orally, and eventually written down in the Talmud and the Mishnah. The Rabbinic interpretation of the Oral Laws are called Gemara.

Torah She'Be'al Peh, or Torah of the Mouth

Jewish tradition holds that the Torah has been transmitted in parallel with an oral tradition. Jews point to texts of the Torah, where many words and concepts are left undefined and many procedures mentioned without explanation or instructions; the reader is required to seek out the missing details from the oral sources. For example, many times in the Torah it says that/as you are/were shown on the mountain in reference of how to do a commandment (Exodus 25:40).

According to classical rabbinic texts this parallel set of material was originally transmitted to Moses at Sinai, and then from Moses to Israel. At that time it was forbidden to write and publish the oral law, as any writing would be incomplete and subject to misinterpretation and abuse. However, after persecution and exile, this restriction was lifted when it became apparent that in writing was the only way to ensure that the Oral Law could be preserved.

Around 200 CE, Rabbi Judah haNasi took up the compilation of a nominally written version of the Oral Law, the Mishnah. Other oral traditions from the same time period not entered into the Mishnah were recorded as "Baraitot" (external teaching), and the Tosefta. Other traditions were written down as Midrashim. Over the next four centuries this small, ingenious record of laws and ethical teachings provided the necessary signals and codes to allow the continuity of the same Mosaic Oral traditions to be taught and passed on in Jewish communities scattered across both of the world's major Jewish communities, (from Israel to Babylon).

After continued persecution more of the Oral Law had to be committed to writing. A great many more lessons, lectures and traditions only alluded to in the few hundred pages of Mishnah, became the thousands of pages now called the Gemara. Gemara is Aramaic, having been compiled in Babylon. The Hebrew word for it is Talmud. The Rabbis in Israel also collected their traditions and compiled them into the Jerusalem Talmud. Since the greater number of Rabbis lived in Babylon, the Babylonian Talmud has precedence should the two be in conflict.

Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews accept these texts as the basis for all subsequent halakha and codes of Jewish law, which are held to be normative. Reform and Reconstructionist Jews deny that these texts may be used for determining normative law (laws accepted as binding) but accept them as the authentic and only Jewish version of understanding the Bible and its development throughout history. (Reform and Reconstructionist, although they reject Jewish law as normative, do not accept the religious texts of any other faith.)

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The Qur’an[1] (Arabic: القرآنal-qur’ān, literally "the recitation"; also sometimes transliterated as Qur’ān, Koran, Alcoran or Al-Qur’ān) is the central religious text of Islam. Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for mankind, and consider the original Arabic text to be the final revelation of God.[2][3][4][5] Islam holds that the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gibraele (Gabriel) over a period of 23 years.[2][6][7] Muslims regard the Qur’an as the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with those revealed to Adam, regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Suhuf-i-Ibrahim (Scrolls of Abraham),[8] the Tawrat (Torah),[9][10] the Zabur (Psalms),[11][12] and the Injeel (Gospel).[13][14][15] The aforementioned books are not explicitly included in the Qur’an, but are recognized therein.[16][17] The Qur’an also refers[18] to many events from Jewish and Christian scriptures, some of which are retold in comparatively distinctive ways from the Bible and the Torah, while obliquely referring to other events described explicitly in those texts.

The Qur'an itself expresses that it is the book of guidance. Therefore it rarely offers detailed accounts of historical events; the text instead typically placing emphasis on the moral significance of an event rather than its narrative sequence.[19] It does not describe natural facts in a scientific manner but teaches that natural and supernatural events are signs of God.[20]

The Qur’an was written down by Muhammad's companions while he was alive, although the prime method of transmission was oral. It was compiled in the time of Abu Bakr, the first caliph, and was standardized in the time of Uthman, the third caliph. The Qur’an in its actual form is generally considered by academic scholars to record the words spoken by Muhammad because the search for variants in Western academia has not yielded any differences of great significance and that historically controversy over the content of the Qur’an has never become a main point. [21][22] Therefore all Muslims, Sunni or Shia use the same Qur’an.

Etymology and meaning

The original usage of the word qur`ān is in the Qur’an itself, where it occurs about 70 times assuming various meanings. It is a verbal noun (maṣdar) of the Arabic verb qara`a (Arabic: قرأ), meaning "he read" or "he recited", and represents the Syriac equivalent qeryānā which refers to "scripture reading" or "lesson". While most Western scholars consider the word to be derived from the Syriac, the majority of Muslim authorities hold the origin of the word is qara`a itself.[23] In any case, it had become an Arabic term by Muhammad's lifetime.[2] Among the earliest meanings of the word Qur’an is the "act of reciting", for example in a Qur’anic passage: "Ours is it to put it together and [Ours is] its qur`ān".[24] In other verses it refers to "an individual passage recited [by Muhammad]". In the large majority of contexts, usually with a definite article (al-), the word is referred to as the "revelation" (wahy), that which has been "sent down" (tanzīl) at intervals.[25][26] Its liturgical context is seen in a number of passages, for example: "So when al-qur`ān is recited , listen to it and keep silent".[27] The word may also assume the meaning of a codified scripture when mentioned with other scriptures such as the Torah and Gospel.[28]

The term also has closely related synonyms which are employed throughout the Qur’an. Each of the synonyms possess their own distinct meaning, but their use may converge with that of qur`ān in certain contexts. Such terms include kitāb ("book"); āyah ("sign"); and sūrah ("scripture"). The latter two terms also denote units of revelation. Other related words are: dhikr, meaning "remembrance," used to refer to the Qur’an in the sense of a reminder and warning; and hikma, meaning "wisdom," sometimes referring to the revelation or part of it.[23][29]

The Qur’an has many other names. Among those found in the text itself are al-furqan ("discernment" or "criterion"), umm al-kitāb (the "mother book", or "archetypal book"), al-huda ("the guide"), dhikrallah ("the remembrance of God"), al-hikmah ("the wisdom"), and kalamallah ("the word of God"). Another term is al-kitāb ("the book"), though it is also used in the Arabic language for other scriptures, such as the Torah and the Gospels. The term mus'haf ("written work") is often used to refer to particular Qur'anic manuscripts but is also used in the Qur’an to identify earlier revealed books.[2]


Main articles: Sura and Ayah

The Qur’an 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. [30][31]

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) [2]

The Qur’anic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its nonlinear structure being akin to a web or net.[2] Critics have commented on the textual arrangement pointing out lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order, and presence of repetition.[32][33]

Literary structure

The Qur’an's message is conveyed through the use of various literary structures and devices. In the original Arabic, the chapters and verses employ phonetic and thematic structures that assist the audience's efforts to recall the message of the text. There is consensus among Arab scholars to use the Qur’an as a standard by which other Arabic literature should be measured. Muslims assert (in accordance with the Qur’an itself) that the Qur’anic content and style is inimitable.[34]

Richard Gottheil and Siegmund Frnkel in the Jewish Encyclopedia write that the oldest portions of the Qur’an reflect significant excitement in their language, through short and abrupt sentences and sudden transitions. The Qur’an nonetheless carefully maintains the rhymed form, like the oracles. Some later portions also preserve this form but also in a style where the movement is calm and the style expository.[35]

Michael Sells, citing the work of the critic Norman O. Brown, acknowledges Brown's observation that the seeming "disorganization" of Qur’anic literary expression — its "scattered or fragmented mode of composition," in Sells's phrase — is in fact a literary device capable of delivering "profound effects — as if the intensity of the prophetic message were shattering the vehicle of human language in which it was being communicated."[36][37] Sells also addresses the much-discussed "repetitiveness" of the Qur’an, seeing this, too, as a literary device.

Qur’an as a religious text

Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for mankind and consider the text in its original Arabic to be the literal word of God,[38] revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years[6][7] and view the Qur’an as God's final revelation to humanity.[39][6]

The Christian concept of revelation which means God incarnating and unveiling himself and become visible and audible for mankind is foreign to Islam. Wahy in Islamic and Qur’anic concept means the act of God addressing an individual, conveying a message for a greater number of recipients. The process by which the divine message comes to the heart of a messenger of God is tanzil (to send down) or nuzul (to come down). As the Qur'an says, "With the truth we (God) have sent it down and with the truth it has come down." It designates positive religion, the letter of the revelation dictated by the angel to the prophet. It means to cause this revelation to descend from the higher world. According to hadith, the verses were sent down in special circumstances known as asbab al-nuzul. However, in this view God himself is never the subject of coming down.[40]

The Qur'an frequently asserts in its text that it is divinely ordained, an assertion that Muslims believe. The Qur'an — often referring to its own textual nature and reflecting constantly on its divine origin — is the most meta-textual, self-referential religious text amongst all religious texts. The Qur'an refers to a written pre-text which records God's speech even before it was sent down. [41][42]

The issue of whether the Qur'an is eternal or created was one of the crucial controversies among early Muslim theologians. Mu'tazilis believe it is created while the most widespread varieties of Muslim theologians consider the Qur'an to be eternal and uncreated. Sufi philosophers view the question as artificial or wrongly framed.[

Muslims maintain the present wording of the Qur'anic text corresponds exactly to that revealed to Muhammad himself: as the words of God, said to be delivered to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Muslims consider the Qur'an to be a guide, a sign of the prophethood of Muhammad and the truth of the religion. They argue it is not possible for a human to produce a book like the Qur'an, as the Qur'an itself maintains.

Therefore an Islamic philosopher introduces a prophetology to explain how the divine word passes into human expression. This leads to a kind of esoteric hermeneutics which seeks to comprehend the position of the prophet by mediating on the modality of his relationship not with his own time, but with the eternal source from which his message emanates. This view contrasts with historical critique of western scholars who attempt to understand the prophet through his circumstances, education and type of genius. [44]

The Prophet era

See also: Wahy

According to hadith and Muslim history, after Muhammad emigrated to Medina and formed an independent Muslim community, he ordered a considerable number of the companions (sahaba) to recite the Qur’an and to learn and teach the laws which were being revealed daily. Companions who engaged in the recitation of the Qur’an were called qurra'. Since most sahaba were unable to read or write, they were ordered to learn from the prisoners-of-war the simple writing of the time. Thus a group of sahaba gradually became literate. As it was initially spoken, the Qur’an was recorded on tablets, bones and the wide flat end of date palm fronds. Most chapters were in use amongst early Muslims since they are mentioned in numerous sayings by both Sunni and Shia sources, relating Muhammad's use of the Qur'an as a call to Islam, the making of prayer and the manner of recitation. However, the Qur’an did not exist in book form at the time of Muhammad's death in 632.[45][46]

Welch, a scholar of Islamic studies, states in the Encyclopedia of Islam that he believes the graphic descriptions of Muhammad's condition at these moments may be regarded as genuine, seeing as he was severely disturbed after these revelations. According to Welch, these seizures would have been seen as convincing evidence for the superhuman origin of Muhammad's inspirations by the people around him. Muhammad's critics, however, accused him of being a possessed man, or of being a soothsayer or magician since his claimed experiences were similar to those made by such figures well known in ancient Arabia. Additionally, Welch states that it remains uncertain whether these experiences occurred before or after Muhammad began to see himself as a prophet.[47]

The Qur’an states that Muhammad was ummi,[citation needed] interpreted as illiterate in Muslim tradition. According to Watt, the meaning of the Qur’anic term ummi is unscriptured rather than illiterate. Watt argues that a certain amount of writing was necessary for Muhammad to perform his commercial duties though it seems certain that he had not read any scriptures.

Making Mus'haf

See also: Mus'haf and Tahrif

According to Shia and some Sunni scholars, Ali compiled a complete version of the Qur’an mus'haf[2] immediately after death of Muhammad. The order of this mus'haf differed from that gathered later during Uthman's era. Despite this, Ali made no objection or resistance against standardized mus'haf, but kept his own book. [45][48]

After seventy reciters were killed in the Battle of Yamama, the caliph Abu Bakr decided to collect the different chapters and verses into one volume. Thus, a group of reciters, including Zayd ibn Thabit, collected the chapters and verses and produced several hand-written copies of the complete book. [49][45]

11th Century North African Qur’an in the British Museum
11th Century North African Qur’an in the British Museum

In about 650, as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian peninsula into Persia, the Levant and North Africa, the third caliph Uthman ibn Affan ordered the preparation of an official, standardized version, in order to preserve the sanctity of the text (and perhaps to keep the Rashidun Empire united). Five of the reciters from amongst the companions produced a unique text from the first volume which had been prepared on the orders of Abu Bakr and which was kept with Hafsa bint Umar. The other copies already in the hands of Muslims in other areas were collected and sent to Medina where, on orders of the Caliph, they were destroyed by burning or boiling. This remains the authoritative text of the Qur’an to this day.[50][51][45]

The Qur’an in its present form is generally considered by academic scholars to record the words spoken by Muhammad because the search for variants in Western academia has not yielded any differences of great significance and that historically controversy over the content of the Qur’an has never become a main point. [52] However, this consideration might also point to the effectiveness of Uthman's censorship.

Literary usage

In addition to and largely independent of the division into suar, there are various ways of dividing the Qur’an into parts of approximately equal length for convenience in reading, recitation and memorization. The thirty ajza can be used to read through the entire Qur’an in a week or a month. Some of these parts are known by names and these names are the first few words by which the juz' starts. A juz' is sometimes further divided into two ahzab, and each hizb subdivided into four rub 'al-ahzab. A different structure is provided by the ruku'at, semantical units resembling paragraphs and comprising roughly ten ayat each. Some also divide the Qur’an into seven manazil to facilitate complete recitation in a week.


...and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones.

Qur'an 73:4 (Yusuf Ali)

One meaning of Qur’an is "recitation", the Qur’an itself outlining the general method of how it is to be recited: slowly and in rhythmic tones. Tajwid is the term for techniques of recitation, and assessed in terms of how accessible the recitation is to those intent on concentrating on the words.[53]

To perform salat (prayer), a mandatory obligation in Islam, a Muslim is required to learn at least some suar of the Qur’an (typically starting with the first one, al-Fatiha, known as the "seven oft-repeated verses," and then moving on to the shorter ones at the end). Until one has learned al-Fatiha, a Muslim can only say phrases like "praise be to God" during the salat.

A person whose recital repertoire encompasses the whole Qur’an is called a qari', whereas a memoriser of the Qur’an is called a hafiz (fem. Hafaz) (which translate as "reciter" or "protector," respectively). Muhammad is regarded as the first qari' since he was the first to recite it. Recitation (tilawa تلاوة) of the Qur’an is a fine art in the Muslim world.

Schools of recitation

Main article: Qira'at
Page of a 13th century Qur’an, showing Sura 33: 73
Page of a 13th century Qur’an, showing Sura 33: 73

There are several schools of Qur’anic recitation, all of which are possible pronunciations of the Uthmanic rasm: Seven reliable, three permissible and (at least) four uncanonical - in 8 sub-traditions each - making for 80 recitation variants altogether.[54] A canonical recitation must satisfy three conditions:

  1. It must match the rasm, letter for letter.
  2. It must conform with the syntactic rules of the Arabic language.
  3. It must have a continuous isnad to Muhammad through tawatur, meaning that it has to be related by a large group of people to another down the isnad chain.

These recitations differ in the vocalization (tashkil) of a few words, which in turn gives a complementary meaning to the word in question according to the rules of Arabic grammar. For example, the vocalization of a verb can change its active and passive voice. It can also change its stem formation, implying intensity for example. Vowels may be elongated or shortened, and glottal stops (hamzas) may be added or dropped, according to the respective rules of the particular recitation. For example, the name of archangel Gabriel is pronounced differently in different recitations: Jibrīl, Jabrīl, Jibra'īl, and Jibra'il. The name "Qur’an" is pronounced without the glottal stop (as "Qur’an") in one recitation, and prophet Abraham's name is pronounced Ibrāhām in another.[citation needed] The more widely used narrations are those of Hafss (حفص عن عاصم), Warsh (ورش عن نافع), Qaloon (قالون عن نافع) and Al-Duri according to Abu `Amr (الدوري عن أبي عمرو). Muslims firmly believe that all canonical recitations were recited by Muhammad himself, citing the respective isnad chain of narration, and accept them as valid for worshipping and as a reference for rules of Sharia. The uncanonical recitations are called "explanatory" for their role in giving a different perspective for a given verse or ayah. Today several dozen persons hold the title "Memorizer of the Ten Recitations." This is considered a great accomplishment amongst Muslims.[citation needed]

The presence of these different recitations is attributed to many hadith. Malik Ibn Anas has reported:[55]

Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abd al-Qari narrated: "Umar Ibn Khattab said before me: I heard Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam reading Surah Furqan in a different way from the one I used to read it, and the Prophet (sws) himself had read out this surah to me. Consequently, as soon as I heard him, I wanted to get hold of him. However, I gave him respite until he had finished the prayer. Then I got hold of his cloak and dragged him to the Prophet (sws). I said to him: "I have heard this person [Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam] reading Surah Furqan in a different way from the one you had read it out to me." The Prophet (sws) said: "Leave him alone [O 'Umar]." Then he said to Hisham: "Read [it]." [Umar said:] "He read it out in the same way as he had done before me." [At this,] the Prophet (sws) said: "It was revealed thus." Then the Prophet (sws) asked me to read it out. So I read it out. [At this], he said: "It was revealed thus; this Qur’an has been revealed in Seven Ahruf. You can read it in any of them you find easy from among them.

Suyuti, a famous 15th century Islamic theologian, writes after interpreting above hadith in 40 different ways:[56]

And to me the best opinion in this regard is that of the people who say that this hadith is from among matters of mutashabihat, the meaning of which cannot be understood.

Many reports contradict the presence of variant readings:[57]

  • Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami reports, "the reading of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Zayd ibn Thabit and that of all the Muhajirun and the Ansar was the same. They would read the Qur’an according to the Qira'at al-'ammah. This is the same reading which was read out twice by the Prophet (sws) to Gabriel in the year of his death. Zayd ibn Thabit was also present in this reading [called] the 'Ardah-i akhirah. It was this very reading that he taught the Qur’an to people till his death".[58]
  • Ibn Sirin writes, "the reading on which the Qur’an was read out to the prophet in the year of his death is the same according to which people are reading the Qur’an today".[59]

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi also purports that there is only one recitation of Qur’an, which is called Qira'at of Hafss or in classical scholarship, it is called Qira'at al-'ammah. The Qur'an has also specified that it was revealed in the language of the prophet's tribe: the Quraysh.[Qur'an 19:97][Qur'an 44:58])[57]

However, the identification of the recitation of Hafss as the Qira'at al-'ammah is somewhat problematic when that was the recitation of the people of Kufa in Iraq, and there is better reason to identify the recitation of the reciters of Madinah as the dominant recitation. The reciter of Madinah was Nafi' and Imam Malik remarked "The recitation of Nafi' is Sunnah." Moreover, the dialect of Arabic spoken by Quraysh and the Arabs of the Hijaz was known to have less use of the letter hamzah, as is the case in the recitation of Nafi', whereas in the Hafs recitation the hamzah is one of the very dominant features.[citation needed]

AZ [however] says that the people of El-Hijaz and Hudhayl, and the people of Makkah and Al-Madinah, to not pronounce hamzah [at all]: and 'Isa Ibn-'Omar says, Tamim pronounce hamzah, and the people of Al-Hijaz, in cases of necessity, [in poetry,] do so.[60]

So the hamzah is of the dialect of the Najd whose people came to comprise the dominant Arabic element in Kufa giving some features of their dialect to their recitation, whereas the recitation of Nafi' and the people of Madinah maintained some features of the dialect of Hijaz and the Quraysh.[citation needed]

However, the discussion of the priority of one or the other recitation is unnecessary since it is a consensus of knowledgable people that all of the seven recitations of the Qur’an are acceptable and valid for recitation in the prayer.[citation needed]

Moreover, the so-called "un-canonical" recitations such as are narrated from some of the Companions and which do not conform to the Uthmani copy of the Qur’an are not legitimate for recitation in the prayer, but knowledge of them can legitimately be used in the tafsir of the Qur’an, not as a proof but as a valid argument for an explanation of an ayah.[citation needed]

Writing and printing

Page from a Qur’an ('Umar-i Aqta'). Iran, present-day Afghanistan, Timurid dynasty, circa 1400. Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper Muqaqqaq script. 170 x 109cm (66 15/16 x 42 15/16in). Historical region: Uzbekistan.
Page from a Qur’an ('Umar-i Aqta'). Iran, present-day Afghanistan, Timurid dynasty, circa 1400. Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper Muqaqqaq script. 170 x 109cm (66 15/16 x 42 15/16in). Historical region: Uzbekistan.

Most Muslims today use printed editions of the Qur’an. There are many editions, large and small, elaborate or plain, expensive or inexpensive. Bilingual forms with the Arabic on one side and a gloss into a more familiar language on the other are very popular.

Qur’ans are produced in many different sizes. Most are of a reasonable book size, but there exist extremely large Qur’ans (usually for display purposes)[citation needed] and very small Qur’ans (sometimes given as gifts).[citation needed]

Qur’ans were first printed from carved wooden blocks, one block per page. There are existing specimen of pages and blocks dating from the 10th century AD. Mass-produced less expensive versions of the Qur’an were later produced by lithography, a technique for printing illustrations. Qur’ans so printed could reproduce the fine calligraphy of hand-made versions.[citations needed]

The oldest surviving Qur’an for which movable type was used was printed in Venice in 1537/1538. It seems to have been prepared for sale in the Ottoman empire. Catherine the Great of Russia sponsored a printing of the Qur’an in 1787. This was followed by editions from Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul (1877).[61]

It is extremely difficult to render the full Qur’an, with all the points, in computer code, such as Unicode. The Internet Sacred Text Archive makes computer files of the Qur’an freely available both as images[62] and in a temporary Unicode version.[63] Various designers and software firms have attempted to develop computer fonts that can adequately render the Qur’an.[64]

Before printing was widely adopted, the Qur’an was transmitted by copyists and calligraphers.[verification needed] Since Muslim tradition felt that directly portraying sacred figures and events might lead to idolatry, it was considered wrong to decorate the Qur’an with pictures (as was often done for Christian texts, for example). Muslims instead lavished love and care upon the sacred text itself. Arabic is written in many scripts, some of which are both complex and beautiful. Arabic calligraphy is a highly honored art, much like Chinese calligraphy. Muslims also decorated their Qur’ans with abstract figures (arabesques), colored inks, and gold leaf. Pages from some of these antique Qur’ans are displayed throughout this article.


Main article: Qur'an translations

Translation of the Qur’an has always been a problematic and difficult issue. Since Muslims revere the Qur’an as miraculous and inimitable (i'jaz al-Qur’an),[citation needed] they argue that the Qur’anic text can not be reproduced in another language or form. Furthermore, an Arabic word may have a range of meanings depending on the context, making an accurate translation even more difficult.[65]

Nevertheless, the Qur’an has been translated into most African, Asian and European languages.[65] The first translator of the Qur’an was Salman the Persian, who translated Fatihah into Persian during the 7th century.[66] The first complete translation of Quran was into Persian during the reign of Samanids in the 9th century. Islamic tradition holds that translations were made for Emperor Negus of Abyssinia and Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, as both received letters by Muhammad containing verses from the Qur’an.[65] In early centuries, the permissibility of translations was not an issue, but whether one could use translations in prayer.

In 1936, translations in 102 languages were known.[65]

Robert of Ketton was the first person to translate the Qur’an into a Western language, Latin, in 1143.[67] Alexander Ross offered the first English version in 1649. In 1734, George Sale produced the first scholarly translation of the Qur’an into English; another was produced by Richard Bell in 1937, and yet another by Arthur John Arberry in 1955. All these translators were non-Muslims. There have been numerous translations by Muslims; the most popular of these are by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al Hilali, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, M. H. Shakir, Muhammad Asad and Marmaduke Pickthall.[citation needed]

The English translators have sometimes favored archaic English words and constructions over their more modern or conventional equivalents; for example, two widely-read translators, A. Yusuf Ali and M. Marmaduke Pickthall, use the plural and singular "ye" and "thou" instead of the more common "you." Another common stylistic decision has been to refrain from translating "Allah" — in Arabic, literally, "The God" — into the common English word "God." These choices may differ in more recent translations.[citation needed]

Levels of meaning

Shias and Sufis as well as some Muslim philosophers believe the meaning of the Qur’an to be not restricted to the literal aspect.[68] The Qur’an also has inward aspects. Henry Corbin narrates a hadith that goes back to Muhammad:

"The Qur'an possesses an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning (this depth possesses a depth, after the image of the celestial Spheres which are enclosed within each other). So it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth)."[69]

Commentaries dealing with the zahir (outward aspects) of the text are called tafsir, and hermeneutic and esoteric commentaries dealing with the batin are called ta'wil (“interpretation” or “explanation”), which involves taking the text back to its beginning. Esoteric commentators believe that the ultimate meaning of the Qur’an is known only to God.[2]

In contrast, Qur'anic literalism which follows by Salafis and Zahiris is the belief that the Qur'an should be taken at its apparent meaning, rather than employing any sort of interpretation. This includes, for example, the belief that Allah has appendages such as hands as stated in the Qur’an; this is generally explained by the concept of bi-la kaifa, the claim that the literal meanings should be accepted without asking how or why.


Main article: Tafsir

The Qur'an has sparked a huge body of commentary and explication, known as tafsir. This commentary is aimed at explaining the "meanings of the Qur’anic verses, clarifying their import and finding out their significance."[70] and best tafseer is done by Allah himself. [71]

Tafsir is one of the earliest academic activities of Muslims. According to the Qur’an, Muhammad was the first person who described the meanings of verses for early Muslims.[72] Other early exegetes included a few Companions of Muhammad, like Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Umar and Ubayy ibn Kab. Exegesis in those days was confined to the explanation of literary aspects of the verse, the background of its revelation and, occasionally, interpretation of one verse with the help of the other. If the verse was about a historical event, then sometimes a few traditions (hadith) of Muhammad were narrated to make its meaning clear.[73]

Because the Qur’an is spoken in classical Arabic, many of the later converts to Islam (mostly non-Arabs) did not always understand the Qur’anic Arabic, they did not catch allusions that were clear to early Muslims fluent in Arabic and they were concerned with reconciling apparent conflict of themes in the Qur’an. Commentators erudite in Arabic explained the allusions, and perhaps most importantly, explained which Qur’anic verses had been revealed early in Muhammad's prophetic career, as being appropriate to the very earliest Muslim community, and which had been revealed later, canceling out or "abrogating" (nāsikh) the earlier text (mansukh).[74] [75] [76] Memories of the occasions of revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), the circumstances under which Muhammad had spoken as he did, were also collected, as they were believed to explain some apparent obscurities.[citation needed]

Inward Aspects of the Qur’an

It is an essential idea for Shia as well as Sufi Muslims that the Qur’an has inward aspects too[77]. They refer to several hadith of Muhammad such as

"The Qur’an possesses an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning (this depth possesses a depth, after the image of the celestial Spheres which are enclosed within each other). So it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth)."[78]

According to this view, it has also become evident that the inner meaning of the Qur’an does not eradicate or invalidate its outward meaning. Rather, it is like the soul, which gives life to the body. [79]

On the base of this viewpoint, Henry Corbin considers the Qur’an to have a part to play in Islamic philosophy, because gnosiology itself goes hand in hand with prophetology.[80] However, it is clear that those who don't believe in the divine origin of the Qur’an or any kind of sacred or spiritual existence completely oppose any inward aspect of the Qur’an.

As Ja'far al-Kashfi has defined ta'wil means to lead back or to bring back something to its origin or archetype is a science whose pivot is a spiritual direction and a divine inspiration, while the tafsir is the literal exegesis of the letter; its pivot is the canonical Islamic sciences.[81] Allameh Tabatabaei says according to popular explanation among the later exegetes ta'wil indicates that particular meaning towards which the verse is directed. The meaning of revelation (tanzil), as opposed to ta'wil, is clear or according to the obvious meaning of the words as they were revealed. But this explanation has become so wide spread that, at present, it has become the real meaning of ta'wil, while originally this word meant "to return" or "the returning place". In his view what has been rightly called ta'wil, or hermeneutic interpretation, of the Qur’an is not concerned simply with the denotation of words. Rather, it is concerned with certain truths and realities that transcend the comprehension of the common run of men; yet it is from these truths and realities that the principles of doctrine and the practical injunctions of the Qur’an issue forth. Interpretation is not the meaning of the verse; rather it transpires through that meaning - a special sort of transpiration. There is a spiritual reality which is the main objective of ordaining a law, or basic aim of describing a divine attribute; there is an actual significance to which a Qur’anic story refers. [82][83]

However Shia and Sufism on one hand and Sunni on the other hand have completely different positions on its legitimacy. A verse in the Qur’an[84] points out this issue, but Shia and Sunni disagree on how it should be read. According to Shia, those who are firmly rooted in knowledge like the Prophet and imams, know the secrets of Qur’an, while Sunnis believe just God knows it. According to Allameh Tabatabaei "none knows its interpretation except Allah", remains valid, without any opposing or qualifying clause. Therefore, so far as this verse is concerned, the knowledge of the Qur’an's interpretation is reserved for Allah. But he uses another verses and concludes those who are purified by God know the interpretation of the Qur’an to a certain extent. [83]

The most ancient spiritual commentary on the Qur'an consists of the teachings which the Shia Imams propounded in the course of their conversations with their disciples. It was the principles of their spiritual hermeneutics that were subsequently to be brought together by the Sufis. These texts are narrated from Imam Ali and Ja'far al-Sadiq by Shia and Sunni Sufis. [85]

As Corbin narrates from Shia sources, Ali himself gives this testimony:

Not a single verse of the Qur’an descended upon (was revealed to) the Messenger of God which he did not proceed to dictate to me and make me recite. I would write it with my own hand, and he would instruct me as to its tafsir (the literal explanation) and the ta'wil (the spiritual exegesis), the nasikh (the verse which abrogates) and the mansukh (the abrogated verse), the muhkam (without ambiguity) and the mutashabih (ambiguous), the particular and the general...[86]

According to Allameh Tabatabaei, there are acceptable and unacceptable esoteric interpretations. Acceptable ta'wil refers to the meaning of a verse beyond its literal meaning; rather only the implicit, whose ultimate meaning is known only to God and can't be comprehended directly through human thought alone. The verses in question here are those which refer to the human qualities of coming, going, sitting, satisfaction, anger and sorrow apparently attributed to God. Ta'wil that is unacceptable means "to transfer" the apparent meaning of a verse to a different meaning by means of a proof; this method is not without obvious inconsistencies. Although this view has gained considerable acceptance, it is incorrect and cannot be applied to the Qur’anic verses. The correct interpretation is that reality to which a verse refers; it is found in all verses, the decisive and the ambiguous alike; it is not a sort of a meaning of the word; it is a real fact that is too sublime for words; Allah has dressed them with words so as to bring them a bit nearer to our minds; in this respect they are like proverbs that are used to create a picture in the mind and thus help the hearer to clearly grasp the intended idea. [87] [83]

Therefore Sufi spiritual interpretations usually are accepted by Islamic scholars as authentic interpretations as long as certain conditions were met.[88] In Sufi history, these interpretations were sometimes considered religious innovations (bid'ah), as Salafis today believe. However, even among Shia, ta'wil is extremely controversial. For example, when Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the leader of Islamic revolution, gave some lectures about Surat al-Fatiha in December 1979 and January 1980, some protests forced him to suspend it before he could proceed beyond the first two verses of the surah.[89

Relationship with other literature

The Torah and the Bible

See also: Biblical narratives and the Qur'an and Tawrat

It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).[90]

Qur'an 3:3 (Yusuf Ali)

The Qur'an speaks well of the relationship it has with former books (the Torah and the Gospel) and attributes their similarities to their unique origin and saying all of them have been revealed by the one God.[91]

The Qur'an retells stories of many of the people and events recounted in Jewish and Christian sacred books (Tanakh, Bible) and devotional literature (Apocrypha, Midrash), although it differs in many details. Adam, Enoch, Noah, Heber, Shelah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Jethro, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Aaron, Moses, Ezra, Zechariah, Jesus, and John the Baptist are mentioned in the Qur’an as prophets of God (see Prophets of Islam). Muslims believe the common elements or resemblances between the Bible and other Jewish and Christian writings and Islamic dispensations is due to their common divine source, and that the original Christian or Jewish texts were authentic divine revelations given to prophets.

Muslims believe that those texts were neglected, corrupted (tahrif) or altered in time by the Jews and Christians and have been replaced by God's final and perfect revelation, which is the Qur'an.[92] However, many Jews and Christians[who?] believe that the historical biblical archaeological record refutes this assertion, because the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Tanakh and other Jewish writings which predate the origin of the Qur’an) have been fully translated,[93] validating the authenticity of the Greek Septuagint.[94]

Influence of Christian apocrypha‎

The Diatessaron, Protoevangelium of James, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Arabic Infancy Gospel are all alleged to have been sources that the author/authors drew on when creating the Qur'an.[95] The Diatessaron especially may have led to the misconception in the Qur'an that the Christian Gospel is one text.[96] However this is strongly refuted by Muslim scholars, who maintain that the Qur’an is the divine word of God without any interpolation, and the similarities exist only due to the one source.

Arab writing

After the Qur’an, and the general rise of Islam, the Arabic alphabet developed rapidly into a beautiful and complex form of art.[97]

Wadad Kadi, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago and Mustansir Mir, Professor of Islamic studies at Youngstown State University state that:[98]

Although Arabic, as a language and a literary tradition, was quite well developed by the time of Muhammad's prophetic activity, it was only after the emergence of Islam, with its founding scripture in Arabic, that the language reached its utmost capacity of expression, and the literature its highest point of complexity and sophistication. Indeed, it probably is no exaggeration to say that the Qur’an was one of the most conspicuous forces in the making of classical and post-classical Arabic literature.

The main areas in which the Qur’an exerted noticeable influence on Arabic literature are diction and themes; other areas are related to the literary aspects of the Qur’an particularly oaths (q.v.), metaphors, motifs, and symbols. As far as diction is concerned, one could say that Qur’anic words, idioms, and expressions, especially "loaded" and formulaic phrases, appear in practically all genres of literature and in such abundance that it is simply impossible to compile a full record of them. For not only did the Qur’an create an entirely new linguistic corpus to express its message, it also endowed old, pre-Islamic words with new meanings and it is these meanings that took root in the language and subsequently in the literature...

Qur'an miracles

Main article: Qur'an miracles

Islamic scholars believe that the Qur’an is miraculous by its very nature in being a revealed text and that similar texts cannot be written by human endeavor. Its miraculous nature is claimed to be evidenced by its literary style, suggested similarities between Qur’anic verses and scientific facts discovered much later, and various prophecies. The Qur’an itself challenges those who deny its claimed divine origin to produce a text like it. [Qur'an 17:88][Qur'an 2:23][Qur'an 10:38].[99][100][101] These claims originate directly from Islamic belief in its revealed nature, and are widely disputed by non-muslim scholars of Islamic history.[102]

14 different Arabic letters form 14 different sets of “Qur’anic Initials” (the "Muqatta'at", such as A.L.M. of 2:1) and prefix 29 suras in the Qur’an. The meaning and interpretation of these initials is considered unknown to most Muslims. In 1974, Egyptian biochemist Rashad Khalifa claimed to have discovered a mathematical code based on the number 19[103], which is mentioned in Sura 74:30[104] of the Qur’an.

In culture

Most Muslims treat paper copies of the Qur’an with veneration, ritually washing before reading the Qur’an.[105] Worn out, torn, or errant (for example, pages out of order) Qur’ans are not discarded as wastepaper, but rather are left free to flow in a river, kept somewhere safe, burnt, or buried in a remote location. Many Muslims memorize at least some portion of the Qur’an in the original Arabic, usually at least the verses needed to perform the prayers. Those who have memorized the entire Qur’an earn the right to the title of Hafiz.[106]

Based on tradition and a literal interpretation of sura 56:77-79: "That this is indeed a Qur’an Most Honourable, In a Book well-guarded, Which none shall touch but those who are clean.", many scholars opine that a Muslim perform wudu (ablution or a ritual cleansing with water) before touching a copy of the Qur’an, or mus'haf. This view has been contended by other scholars on the fact that, according to Arabic linguistic rules, this verse alludes to a fact and does not comprise an order. The literal translation thus reads as "That (this) is indeed a noble Qur'ān, In a Book kept hidden, Which none toucheth save the purified," (translated by Mohamed Marmaduke Pickthall). It is suggested based on this translation that performing ablution is not required.

Qur'an desecration means insulting the Qur’an by defiling or dismembering it. Muslims must always treat the book with reverence, and are forbidden, for instance, to pulp, recycle, or simply discard worn-out copies of the text. Respect for the written text of the Qur’an is an important element of religious faith by many Muslims. They believe that intentionally insulting the Qur’an is a form of blasphemy.

The Qur’an's teachings on matters of war and peace have become topics of heated discussion in recent years. On the one hand, some critics interpret that certain verses of the Qur’an sanction military action against unbelievers as a whole both during the lifetime of Muhammad and after.[107][108][109] On the other hand, other scholars argue that such verses of the Qur’an are interpreted out of context,[110][111][112] and argue that when the verses are read in context it clearly appears that the Qur’an prohibits aggression,[113][114][115] and allows fighting only in self defense.[116][117]

Some scholars, such as Patricia Crone, Michael Cook, and Gerd-R. Puin, are skeptical of traditional religious accounts of the Qur'an's creation and history.[118]

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