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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [1]

Or ALCORAN, the Scripture or Bible of the Mahometans, containing the revelations and doctrines of their pretended prophet. 1. Koram, division of the. The Koran is divided into one hundred and fourteen larger portions of very unequal length, which we call chapters, but the Arabians Sowar, in the singular Sura; a word rarely used on any other occasion, and properly signifying a row, or in building, or a rank of soldiers in an army, and is the same in use and import with the Sura, or Tora, of the Jews; who also call the fifty three sections of the Pentateuch Sedarim, a word of the same signification. These chapters are not, in the manuscript copies, distinguished by their numerical order, but by particular titles, which are taken sometimes from a peculiar subject treated of, or person mentioned therein; usually from the first word of note, exactly in the same manner as the Jews have named their Sedarim, though the word from which some chapters are denominated be very distant towards the middle, or perhaps the end, of the chapter; which seems ridiculous. But the occasion of this appears to have been, that the verse or passage wherein such word occurs, was, in point of time, revealed and committed to writing before the other verses of the same chapter which precede it in order, the verse from whence such title was taken did not always happen to begin the chapter. Some chapters have two or more titles, occasioned by the difference of the copies.

Some of them being pretended to have been revealed at Mecca, and others at Medina, the noting this difference makes a part of the title. Every chapter is divided into smaller portions, of very unequal length also, which we customarily call verses; but the Arabic word is Ayat, the same with the Hebrew Ototh, and signifies signs or wonders; such as the secrets of God, his attributes, works, judgments, and ordinances, delivered in those verses; many of which have their particular titles, also, imposed in the same manner as those of the chapters. Besides these unequal divisions, the Mahometans have also divided their Koran into sixty equal portions, which they call Anzab, in the singular Hizb, each subdivided into four equal parts; which is likewise an imitation of the Jews, who have an ancient division of their Mishma into sixty portions, called Massictoth. But the Koran is more usually divided into thirty sections only, named Ajaza, from the singular Joz, each of twice the length of the former, and in like manner subdivided into four parts. These divisions are for the use of the readers of the Koran in the royal temples, or in the adjoining chapels where the emperors and great men are interred; of whom there are thirty belonging to every chapel, and each reads his section every day; so that the whole Koran is read over once a day. Next after the title, at the name of every chapter except only the ninth, is prefixed the following solemn form, by the Mahometans, called the Bismallah.

"In the name of the most merciful God;" which form they constantly place at the beginning of all their hooks and writings in general, as a peculiar mark and distinguishing characteristic of their religion, it being counted a sort of impiety to omit it. the Jews, and eastern Christians, for the same purpose, make use of similar forms. But Mahomet probably took this form from the Persian Magi, who began their books in these words, Benam Yezdam, bakshaishgher dadar; that is, In the name of the most merciful just God. There are twenty-nine chapters of the Koran which have this peculiarity, that they begin with certain letters of the alphabet, some with single ones, others with more. These letters the Mahometans believe to be the peculiar marks of the Koran, and to conceal several profound mysteries; the certain understanding of which, the more intelligent confess, has not been communicated to any mortal, their prophet only excepted: notwithstanding which, some take the liberty of guessing at their meaning by that species of cabala called by the Jews, Notarikon. 2. Koran, general design of the.

The general design of the Koran was to unite the professors of the three different religions, than followed in the populous country of Arabia, (who, for the most part, wandered without guides, the far greater number being idolaters, and the rest Jews and Christians, mostly of erroneous opinion, ) in the knowledge and worship of one God, under the sanction of certain laws and ceremonies, partly of ancient, and partly of novel institution, enforced by the consideration of rewards and punishments both temporal and eternal; and to bring them all to the obedience of Mahomet, as the prophet and ambassador of God; who, after the repeated admonitions, promises, and threats of former ages, was sent at last to establish and propagate God's religion on earth; and to be acknowledged chief pontiff in spiritual matters, as well as supreme prince in temporal. The great doctrine, then, of the Koran is the unity of God, to restore which, Mahomet pretended, was the chief end of his mission; it being laid down by him as a fundamental truth, That there never was, nor ever can be, more than one true orthodox religion: that, though the particular laws or ceremonies are only temporary and subject to alteration, according to the divine direction; yet the substance of it, being eternal truth, is not liable to change, but continues immutably the same; and that, whenever this religion became neglected or corrupted in essentials, God had the goodness to re-inform and re-admonish mankind thereof by several prophets, of whom Moses and Jesus were the most distinguished, till the appearance of Mahomet, who is their seal, and no other to be expected after him.

The more effectually to engage people to hearken to him, great part of the Koran is employed in relating examples of dreadful punishments formerly inflicted by God on those who rejected and abused his messengers; several of which stories, or some circumstances of them, are taken from the Old and New Testaments, but many more from the apocryphal books and traditions of the Jews and Christians of those ages, set up in the Koran as truths, in opposition to the Scriptures, which the Jews and Christians are charged with having altered; and, indeed, few or none of the relations of circumstances in the Koran were invented by Mahomet, as is generally supposed; it being easy to trace the greatest part of them much higher, as the rest might be, were more of these books extant, and were it worth while to make the inquiry. The rest of the Alcoran is taken up in prescribing necessary laws and directions, frequent admonitions to moral and divine virtues, the worship and reverence of the Supreme Being, and resignation to his will. One of their most learned commentators distinguishes the contents of the Alcoran into allegorical and literal: under the former are comprehended all the obscure, parabolical, and enigmatical passages, with such laws as are repealed or abrogated; the latter, such as are clear, and in full force. The most excellent moral in the whole Alcoran, interpreters say, is that in the chapter Al alraf, viz. "Show mercy, do good to all, and dispute not with the ignorant;" or, as Mr. Sale renders it, Use indulgence, command that which is just, and withdraw far from the ignorant.

Mahomet, according to the authors of the Keschaf, having begged of the angel Gabriel a more ample explication of this passage, received it in the following terms: "

Seek him who turns thee out, give to him who takes from thee, pardon him who injures thee; for God will have you plant in your souls the roots of his chief perfections." It is easy to see that this commentary is borrowed from the Gospel. In reality, the necessity of forgiving enemies, though frequently inculcated in the Alcoran, is of a later date among the Mahometans, than among the Christians; among those later than among the heathens; and to be traced originally among the Jews, (

See  Exodus 33:4-5 .) But it matters not so much who had it first as who observes it best. The caliph Hassan, son of Hali, being at table, a slave let fall a dish of meat reeking hot, which scalded him severely. The slave fell on his knees, rehearsing these words of the Alcoran; "Paradise is for those who restrain their anger." "I am not angry with thee, " answered the caliph. "And for those who forgive offences against them, " continues the slave, "I forgive thee thine, " replies the caliph. "But, above all, for those who return good for evil, " adds the slave. "I set thee at liberty, " rejoined the caliph; "and I give thee ten dinars"

There are also a great number of occasional passages in the Alcoran relating only to particular emergencies. For this advantage Mahomet had, by his piecemeal method of receiving and delivering his revelations, that, whenever he happened to be perplexed with any thing, he had a certain resource in some new morsel of revelation. It was an admirable contrivance to bring down the whole Alcoran only to the lowest heaven, not to earth; since, had the whole been published at once, innumerable objections would have been made, which it would have been impossible for him to have solved; but as he received it by parcels, as God saw fit they should be published for the conversion and instruction of the people, he had a sure way to answer all emergencies, and to extricate himself with honour from any difficulty which might occur. 3. Koran, history of the. It is the common opinion, that Mahomet, assisted by one Sergius, a monk, composed this book; but the Mussulmans believe it as an article of their faith, that the prophet, who, they say, was an illiterate man, had no concern in inditing it; but that it was given him by God, who, to that end, made use of the ministry of the angel Gabriel; that, however, it was communicated to him by little and little, a verse at a time, and in different places, during the course of 23 years.

"And hence, " say they, "proceed that disorder and confusion visible in the work;" which, in truth, are so great, that all their doctors have never been able to adjust them; for Mahomet, or rather his copyist, having put all the loose verses promiscuously in a book together, it was impossible ever to retrieve the order wherein they were delivered. These 23 years which the angel employed in conveying the Alcoran to Mahomet, are of wonderful service to his followers; inasmuch as they furnish them with an answer to such as tax them with those glaring contradictions of which the book is full, and which they piously father upon God himself; alleging that, in the course of so long a time, he repealed and altered several doctrines and precepts which the prophet had before received of him. M. D'Herbelot thinks it probable, that when the heresies of the Nestorians, Eutychians, &c. had been condemned by aecumenical councils, many bishops, priests, monks, &c. being driven into the deserts of Arabia and Egypt, furnished the impostor with passages, and crude ill-conceived doctrines, out of the Scriptures; and that it was hence that the Alcoran became so full of the wild and erroneous opinions of those heretics. The Jews also, who were very numerous in Arabia, furnished materials, for the Alcoran; nor is it without some reason that they boast twelve of their chief doctors to have been the authors of this work.

The Alcoran, while Mahomet lived, was only kept in loose sheets: his successor, Abubeker, first collected them into a volume, and committed the keeping of it to Haphsa, the widow of Mahomet, in order to be consulted as an original; and there being a good deal of diversity between the several copies already dispersed throughout the provinces, Ottoman, successor of Abubeker, procured a great number of copies to be taken from that of Haphsa, at the same time suppressing all the others not conformable to the original. The chief differences in the present copies of this book consist in the points, which were not in use in the time of Mahomet and his immediate successors; but were added since, to ascertain the reading, after the example of the Massorettes, who added the like points to the Hebrew texts of Scripture. There are seven principal editions of the Alcoran, two at Medina, one at Mecca, one at Cufa, one at Bassora, one in Syria, and the common, or vulgate edition. The first contains 6000 verses, the others surpassing this number by 200 or 236 verses; but the number of words and letters is the same in all; viz. 77, 639 words, and 323, 015 letters. The number of commentaries on the Alcoran is so large, that the bare titles would make a huge volume. Ben Oschair has written the history of them, entitled, Tarikh Ben Oschair. The principal among them are, Reidhaori, Thaalebi, Zamalchschari, and Bacai. The Mahometans have a positive theology built on the Alcoran and tradition, as well as a scholastical one built on reason.

They have likewise their casuists, and a kind of canon law, wherein they distinguish between what is of divine and what of positive right. They have their beneficiaries, too, chaplains, almoners, and canons, who read a chapter every day out of the Alcoran in their mosques, and have prebends annexed to their office. The hatib of the mosque is what we call the parson of the parish; and the schelks are the preachers, who take their texts out of the Alcoran. 4. Koran, Mahometan faith concerning. It is the general belief among the Mahometans that the Koran is of divine original; nay, that it is eternal and uncreated; remaining, as some express it, in the very essence of God: and the first transcript has been from everlasting, by God's throne, written on a table of vast bigness, called the preserved table, in which are also recorded the divine decrees, past and future; that a copy from this table, in one volume upon paper, was by the ministry of the angel Gabriel sent down to the lowest heaven, in the month of Ramadan, on the night of power, from whence Gabriel revealed it to Mahomet in parcels, some at Mecca, and some at Medina, at different times, during the space of twenty-three years, as the exigency of affairs required; giving him, however, the consolation to show him the whole (which they tell us was bound in silk, and adorned with gold and precious stones of paradise) once a year; but in the last year of his life he had the favour to see it twice. They say, that only ten chapters were delivered entire, the rest being revealed piecemeal, and written down from time to time by the prophet's amanuensis, in such a part of such and such a chapter, till they were completed, according to the directions of the angel. The first parcel that was revealed is generally agreed to have been the first five verses of the ninety-sixth chapter. In fine, the book of the Alcoran is held in the highest esteem and reverence among the Mussulmans. They dare not so much as touch the Alcoran without being first washed, or legally purified; to prevent which an inscription is put on the cover or label,

Let none touch but they who are clean. It is read with great care and respect, being never held below the girdle. They swear by it; take omens from it on all weighty occasions; carry it with them to war; write sentences of it on their banners; adorn it with gold and precious stones; and knowingly not suffer it to be in the possession of any of a different religion. Some say that it is punishable even with death, in a Christian, to touch it; others, that the veneration of the Mussulmans leads them to condemn the translating it into any other language, as a profanation: but these seem to be exaggerations. The Mahometans have taken care to have their Scripture translated into the Persian, the Javan, the Malayan, and other languages; though, out of respect to the original, these versions are generally, if not always, interlineated. 5. Koran, success of the, accounted for. The author of the "View of Christianity and Mahometanism" observes, that, "by the advocates of Mahometanism, the Koran has always been held forth as the greatest of miracles, and equally stupendous with the act of raising the dead. The miracles of Moses and Jesus, they say, were transient and temporary: but that of the Koran is permanent and perpetual, and therefore far surpassed all the miraculous events of preceding ages.

We will not detract from the real merits of the Koran; we allow it to be generally elegant and often sublime; but at the same time we reject with disdain its arrogant pretence to any thing supernatural, all the real excellence of the work being easily referable to natural and visible causes. In the language of Arabia, a language extremely loved and diligently cultivated by the people to whom it was vernacular, Mahomet found advantages which were never enjoyed by any former or succeeding impostor. It requires not the eye of a philosopher to discover in every soil and country a principle of national pride: and if we look back for many ages on the history of the Arabians, we shall easily perceive that pride among them invariably to have consisted in the knowledge and improvement of their native language. The Arabic, which has been justly esteemed the most copious of the eastern tongues, which had existed from the remotest antiquity, which had been embellished by numberless poets, and refined by the constant exercise of the natives, was the most successful instrument which Mahomet employed in planting his new religion among them. Admirably adapted by its unrivalled harmony, and by its endless variety, to add painting to expression, and to pursue the imagination in its unbounded flight, it became in the hands of Mahomet an irresistible charm to blind the judgment and to captivate the fancy of his followers. Of that description of men who first composed the adherents of Mahomet, and to whom the Koran was addressed, few, probably, were able to pass a very accurate judgment on the propriety of the sentiments, or on the beauty of the diction: but all could judge of the military abilities of their leader; and in the midst of their admiration, it is not difficult to conceive that they would ascribe to his compositions every imaginary beauty of inspired language.

The shepherd and the soldier, though awake to the charms of those wild but beautiful compositions in which were celebrated their favourite occupations of love or war, were yet little able to criticise any other works than those which were addressed to their imagination or their heart. To abstract reasonings on the attributes and the dispensations of the Deity, to the comparative excellencies of rival religions, to the consistency of any one religious system in all its parts, and to the force of its various proofs, they were quite inattentive. In such a situation, the appearance of a work which possessed something like wisdom and consistence; which prescribed the rules and illustrated the duties of life; and which contained the principles of a new and comparatively sublime theology, independently of its real and permanent merit, was likely to excite their astonishment, and to become the standard of future composition. In the first periods of the literature of every country, something of this kind has happened. The father of Grecian poetry very obviously influenced the taste and imitation of his country. The modern nations of Europe all possess some original author, who, rising from the darkness of former ages, has begun the career of composition, and tinctured with the character of his own imagination the stream which has flowed through his posterity. But the prophet of Arabia had in this respect advantages peculiar to himself.

His compositions were not to his followers the works of man, but the genuine language of Heaven which had sent him. They were not confined, therefore, to that admiration which is so liberally bestowed on the earliest productions of genius, or to that fond attachment with which men every where regard the original compositions of their country; but with their admiration they blended their piety. To know and to feel the beauties of the Koran, was in some respect to share in the temper of heaven; and he who was most affected with admiration in the perusal of its beauties, seemed fitly the object of that mercy which had given it to ignorant man. The Koran, therefore, became naturally and necessarily the standard of taste. With a language thus hallowed in their imaginations, they were too well satisfied either to dispute its elegance, or improve its structure. In succeeding ages, the additional sanction of antiquity or prescription, was given to those compositions which their fathers had admired; and while the belief of its divine original continues, that admiration which has thus become the test and the duty of the faithful, can neither be altered nor diminished. When, therefore, we consider these peculiar advantages of the Koran, we have no reason to be surprised at the admiration in which it is held. But, if descending to a more minute investigation of it, we consider its perpetual inconsistence and absurdity, we shall indeed have cause for astonishment at that weakness of humanity which could ever have received such compositions as the work of the Deity." 6. Koran, style and merits of the, examined.

"The first praise of all the productions of genius (continues this author) is invention; that quality of the mind, which, by the extent and quickness of its views, is capable of the largest conceptions, and of forming new combinations of objects the most distant and unusual. But the Koran bears little impression of this transcendant character. Its materials are wholly borrowed from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, from the Talmudical legends and apocryphal gospels than current in the east, and from the traditions and fables which abounded in Arabia. The materials collected from these several sources are here heaped together with perpetual and heedless repetitions, without any settled principle or visible connection. When a great part of the life of Mahomet had been spent in preparatory meditation on the system he was about to establish, its chapters were dealt out slowly and separately during the long period of twenty-three years. Yet, thus defective in its structure, and no less objectionable in its doctrines, was the work which Mahomet delivered to his followers as the oracles of God. The most prominent feature of the Koran, that point of excellence in which the partiality of its admirers has ever delighted to view it, is the sublime notion it generally impresses of the nature and attributes of God.

If its author had really derived these just conceptions from the inspiration of that Being whom they attempt to describe, they would not have been surrounded, as they now are on every side, with error and absurdity. But it might be easily proved, that whatever it justly defines of the divine attributes was borrowed from our Holy Scripture; which even from its first promulgation, but especially from the completion of the New Testament, has extended the views and enlightened the understandings of mankind: and thus furnished them to arms which have too often been effectually turned against itself by its ungenerous enemies. In this instance, particularly, the copy is far below the great original, both in the propriety of its images and the force of its descriptions." 7. Koran, the sublimity of the, contrasted. "Our Holy Scriptures are the only compositions that can enable the dim sight of mortality to penetrate into the invisible world, and to behold a glimpse of the divine perfections. Accordingly, when they would represent to us the happiness of heaven, they describe it, not by any thing minute and particular, but by something general and great; something that, without descending to any determinate object, may at once by its beauty and immensity excite our wishes, and elevate our affections. Though in the prophetical and evangelical writings, the joys that shall attend us in a divine state, are often mentioned with ardent admiration, they are expressed rather by allusion than by similitude; rather by indefinite and figurative terms, than by any thing fixed and determinate.

'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, '  1 Corinthians 2:9 . What a reverence and astonishment does this passage excite in every hearer of taste and piety! What energy, and at the same time what simplicity in the expression! How sublime, and at the same time how obscure, is the imagery! Different was the conduct of Mahomet in his descriptions of heaven and paradise. Unassisted by the necessary influence of virtuous intentions and divine inspiration, he was neither desirous, nor indeed able to exalt the minds of men to sublime conceptions, or to rational expections. By attempting to explain what is inconceivable, to describe what is ineffable, and to materialize what in itself is spiritual, he absurdly and impiously aimed to sensualize the purity of the divine essence. Thus he fabricated a system of incoherence, a religion of depravity, totally repugnant to the nature of that Being, who, as he pretended, was its object; but therefore more likely to accord with the appetites and conceptions of a corrupt and sensual age. That we may not appear to exalt our Scriptures thus far above the Koran by an unreasonable preference, we shall produce a part of the second chapter of the latter, which is deservedly admired by the Mahometans, who wear it engraved on their ornaments, and recite it in their prayers. "God! there is no God but he; the living, the self-subsisting; neither slumber nor sleep seizeth him: to him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven, and on earth.

Who is he that can intercede with him but through his good pleasure? He knoweth that which is past, and that which is to come. His throne is extended over heaven and earth, and the preservation of both is to him no burden. He is the high, the mighty.' Sale's Koran, vol. 2: p. 30. To this description who can refuse the praise of magnificence? Part of that magnificence, however, is to be referred to that verse of the psalmist whence it was borrowed: 'He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep, '  Psalms 121:4 . But if we compare it with that other passage of the inspired psalmist, ( Psalms 102:24-27 .) all its boasted grandeur is at once obscured, and lost in the blaze of a greater light! 'O, my god, take me not away in the midst of my days; thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.' The Koran, therefore, upon a fair examination, far from supporting its arrogant claim to a supernatural work, sinks below the level of many compositions confessedly of human original; and still lower does it fall in our estimation, when compared with that pure and perfect pattern which we justly admire in the Scriptures of truth. It is, therefore, abundantly apparent, that no miracle was either externally performed for the support, or is internally involved in the composition of the Mahometan revelation."

See Sale's Koran; Prideaux's Life of Mahomet; White's Sermons of Bampton Lectures; and article Mahometanism

Webster's Dictionary [2]

(n.) The Scriptures of the Mohammedans, containing the professed revelations to Mohammed; - called also Alcoran.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [3]

often Anglicized (when, as properly, it has the article prefixed) Al-Coran, but more precisely Quaran. The emphasis is not on the first syllable, as many persons place it. The word is from the Arabic root karaa, and means literally the reading-that which ought to be read; corresponding nearly to the Chaldee Keri (q.v.). The book is also called Furqan, from a root signifying to divide or distinguish; Sale says to denote a section or portion of the Scriptures; but Mohammedans say because it distinguishes between good and evil. It is furthermore spoken of as Al-Moshaf, "The Volume," and Al-Kitarb, "The Book," by way of eminence; and Al-Dhikr, " The Admonition." The Koran is the Mohammedan Book of Faith, or, as we may say, Bible.

Divisions. It consists of one volume, which is divided into one hundred and fourteen larger sections or portions called Suras, which signifies a regular series. These suras or sections are not numbered in the original, but bear each its own title, which is generally some keyword in the chapter, or the first word therein. In cases where it is taken from near the close of the chapter, it is probable that that portion was originally uttered first. Some suppose these titles to have been matter of revelation, as also the initial Bism-Illah, "In the name of God," etc., which is likewise placed as a prefatory phrase in all Moslem books, but in the Koran stands at the head of each chapter or sura. There are twenty-nine chapters which begin with certain letters, and these the Mohammedans believe to conceal profound mysteries, that have not been communicated to any but the prophet; notwithstanding which, various explanations of them have been proffered. For these curious but unimportant theories, see Sale, p. 43. The chapters or suras do not now stand in the order in which they were originally uttered. As the Mohammedan theory concerning the reconciliation of inconsistencies in the Koran is that the later revelation abrogates any former one with which it conflicts, and as some two hundred and twenty- five of the passages of the Koran are admitted thus to have been cancelled, their chronological order frequently becomes a matter of considerable importance. The real order in point of time, and, therefore, authority, as now determined, after immense painstaking, is the following: Suras numbered 103, 100, 99, 91, 106, 1, 101, 95,102,104, 82, 92, 105, 89, 90, 93, 94, 108, were delivered in the order in which they are here set down in the first stage of Mohammed's prophetic career. Suras numbered 96,112, 74, 111, belong to the second period of his career, and extend to his fortieth year. Those numbered 87, 97, 88, 80, 81, 84, 86, 110, 85, 83, 78, 77, 76, 75, 70, 109, 107, 55, 56, belong to the third period. Numbers 67, 53, 32, 39, 73, 79, 54, 34, 31, 69, 68, 41, 71, 52, 50, 45, 44, 37, 30, 26,15, 51, cover the time from the sixth to the tenth year of Mohammed's mission. Numbers 46, 72, 35, 36, 19, 18, 27, 42, 40, 38. 2, 20, 43, 12, 11, 10, 14, 6, 64, 28, 23, 22, 21, 17, 16, 13, 29, 7, to the fifth stage. The date of numbers 113, 114 is not known. Numbers 2, 47, 57, 8, 58, 65, 98, 62, 59, 24, 63, 48, 61,4, 3, 5, 33, 60, 66, 49, 9, are those delivered at Medina. Most of the others were delivered at Mecca, though some were delivered partly at Medina and partly at Mecca. The Koran is further subdivided by the equivalent of our verses, called Ayat, which means signs or wonders, as the secrets of God's attributes, works, judgments, etc. It is again arranged in sixty equal portions called Heizb, each of which is divided into four equal parts (or into thirty portions twice the length of the former, and subdivided into four parts), for the use of the readers in the royal temples or in the adjoining chapels where the emperors and great men are interred. Thirty of these readers belong to each chapel, and each reads his section every day, so that the whole Koran is read through once a day (Sale, p. 42). Contents. The matter of the Koran is exceedingly incoherent and sententious, the book evidently being without any logical order of thought either as a whole or in its parts. This agrees with the desultory and incidental manner in which it is said to have been delivered. The following table of the suras (condensed from Sale) will give the reader some idea of its miscellaneous range of topics. Many of the headings, however, are, as above explained, simply catch-titles, taken from some prominent word or expression. Most of the contents are preceptive merely; some are a travesty of Bible history; others recount in a vague and fragmentary way incidents in the prophet's personal or public career; and a few are somewhat speculative. Generally these elements are indiscriminately mixed in the same piece.

1. Preface ............. 7

2. The Cow........... 286

3. The Family of Imran 200

4. Women ........... 175

5. The Table .......... 120

6. Cattle............ 165

7. Al-Araf ........... 206

8. The Spoils......... 76

9. The Declaration of Immunity [Conversion] .............. 139

10. Jonas .............. 109

11. Hud ............... 123

12. Joseph ............. 111

13. Thunder ........... 43

14. Abraham ........... 52

15. Al-Hejra [Theflight] 99

16. The Bee............ 128

17. The Night Journey. 110

18. The Cave ........... 111

19. Mary................ 80

20. T. H................ 134

21. The Prophets ...... 112

22. The Pilgrimage .... 78

23. The True Believers. 118

24. Light ...........74

25. Al-Forkan [The Koran] 77

26. The Poets .......... 22

27. The Ant ............93

28. The Story.......... 87

29. The Spider......... 69

30. The Greeks......... 60

31. Lokman ............ 34

32. Adoration .......... 29

33. The Confederates .. 73

34. Saba ................ 54

35. The Creator [Angels] 45

36. Y. S. [I. S.] ......... 83

37. Those who rank themselves in Order [The Classes] ......... 182

38. S................... 86

39. The Troops ...... 7

40. The True Believers. 85

41. Are distinctly Explained [Explanation]............. 54

42. Consultation....... 53

43. The Ornaments of God [Dress] ...... 89

44. Smoke .............. 57

45. The Kneeling...... 36

46. Al-Ahkaf ........... 35

47. Mohammed[The Battle] ............... 38

48. The Victory ........ 29

49. The Inner Apartments [Sanctuary] 18

50. K ................... 45

51. The Dispersing [Breath Of The Winds] ..... 60

52. The Mountain ...... 48

53. The Star ........... 61

54. The Moon .......... 55

55. The Merciful....... 7

56. The Inevitable Judg Ment]............. 99

57. Iron................ 29

58. She who Disputed [The Complaint].. 22

59. The Emigration [The Assembly] ........ 24

60. She who is Tried[The Proof] ........... 13

61. Battle Array ....... 14

62. The Assembly [Friday] ............. 11

63. The Hypocrites [Impious] ............ 11

64. Mutual Deceit [Knavery] ............... 18

65. Divorce ............. 12

66. Prohibition.......... 12

67. The Kingdom....... 30

68. The Pen............. 52

69. The Infallible [The Inevitable Day] ....... 52

70. The Steps [The Classes] ................ 44

71. Noah ................ 28

72. The Genii ........... 2

73. The Wrapped up [The Prophet In His Dress] 19

74. The Covered [The Mantle ]................ 55

75. The Resurrection.... 40

76. Man ................. 31

77. Those who are sent [The Messengers]... 50

78. The [Important] News 40

79. Those who tear forth [The Ministers Of Vengeance] .........46

80. He Frowned [The Frown] ............42

81. The Folding up[Darkness]...............29

82. The Cleaving asunder 19

83. Those who give short Measure or Weight 36

84. The Rending asunder 23

85. The Celestial Signs.. 22

86. The Nocturnal Star.. 17

87. The Most High..... 19

88. The Overwhelming [The Gloomy Veil] . 26

89. The Daybreak .......30

90. The Territory [The City] .............. 20

91. The Sun............. 15

92. The Night........... 21

93. The Brightness [The Sun In Meridian].. 11

94. Have we not opened? [The Exposition], ... 8

95. The Fig-[tree] ....... 8

96. The Concealed Blood [The Union Of The Sexes] ..............19

97. Al-Kadir [The Celebrated Night] ...... ,5

98. The Evidence ....... 8

99. The Earthquake..... 8

100. The War Horses ... 11

101. The Striking [Day Of Calamities] ........10

102. The Emulous Desire of Multiplying[Love Of Gain] ........... 8

103. The Afternoon ...... 3

104. The Slanderer....... 9

105. The Elephant...... 5

106. Koreish ............. 4

107. Necessaries [The Succoring Hand] ...... 7

108. Al-Kitthar .......... 3

109. The Unbelievers..... 6

110. Assistance........... 3

111. Albu Laheb.......... 5

112. The Declaration of God's Unity....... 4

113. The Daybreak [God Of Morning] ........ 5

114. Man ................. 6

Manner of Preservation. Mohammed's professed revelations were made at intervals extending over a period of twenty-three years, when the canon was closed. We have no certain information about the manner of their preservation during the prophet's life. Many persons wrote them on palm- leaves and various other substances which were conveniently at hand. A writer in the Calcutta Review (xix, 8) says: " In the latter part of his career the prophet had many Arabic amanuenses; some of them occasional, as Ali and Othman, others official, as Zeid ibn-Thabit (who also learned Hebrew expressly in order to conduct Mohammed's business at Medina). In Wackidy's collection of dispatches the writers are mentioned, and they amount to fourteen. Some say there were four-and-twenty of his followers whom he used more or less as scribes, others as many as forty-two (Weil's Mohammed, p. 350). In his early life at Mecca he could not have had these facilities, but even then his wife, Khadija (who could read the sacred Scriptures), might have recorded his revelations; or Waraca, Ali, or Abu- Bekr. At Medina, Obey ibn-Kab is mentioned as one who used to record the inspired recitations of Mohammed (Wackidy, p. 277 ½ ). Abdallah ibn- Sad, another, was excepted from the Meccan amnesty because he had falsified the revelation dictated to him by the proph. et (Weil's Iolohammed). It is also evident that the revelations were recorded, because they are frequently called throughout the Koran itself Kitab, ' the writing,' i.e. Scriptures." Besides this, however. there were many persons who recited these sayings daily, considering their repetition to be a duty, and persons generally repeated some parts of them. It was said that some Could repeat literally every word of the Koran. The recital of a portion of it was essential in every celebration of public worship, and its private perusal was urged as a duty and considered a privilege. No order was, however, observed in their perusal, in public the imam or preacher selecting according to his own pleasure.

Collected by Zeid. Many of the best memorizers of the Koran were slain in battle at Yemana, whereupon Omar advised caliph Abu-Bekr, "as the battle might again wax hot among the repeaters of the Koran," that he should appoint Zeid to collect from all sources the matter of the Koran. This Zeid did from date-leaves, tablets of white stones, breasts of men, fragments of parchment and paper, and pieces of leather, and the shoulder and rib bones of camels and goats. Sale supposes that Zeid did not compile, but merely reduced to order the various suras. This, however, was but imperfectly done. Zeid's copy was committed to the care of Hafza, the daughter of Omar.

Recension in Othnman's Time. A variety of expression either originally prevailed, or soon crept into copies made from Zeid's edition. The Koran was "one," but if there were several varying texts where would be its unity? There were marked differences between the Syrian and Iranian readings. The caliph Othman ordered Zeid and three of the Koreish (q.v.) to reproduce an authorized version from the copy of Hafza, and this was subsequently sent into all the principal cities, all previous copies being directed to be burned. This recension being objected to in modern times on the ground Cihat the Koran is incorruptible and eternal, and preserved from all error and variety of readings by the miraculous interposition of God, the Mohammedans now say that it was originally revealed in seven different dialects of the Arabic tongue, and that the men in question only selected from these. The variations in the copies of Othman's edition are marvellously few. There is probably no other work which has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text.

Authenticity. It would appear difficult, notwithstanding the care taken since Othman's day, to prove that the Koran has been entirely uncorrupted. The Shiite Mussulmans say that Othman struck out ten sections, or one fourth part of the whole; and the Dahbistan, translated by Shea and Iroyer (ii, 368), contains one of the sections said to have been struck out. Again, while the Koran was in the care of Hafza, one of Mohammed's wives, we cannot say that it was not in any way tampered with. The balance of evidence, however, is probably against the views of the Shiite sect. At the time of the recension there were multitudes who had transcripts, and who remembered accurately what they had heard. There was bitter political enmity to Othman, headed by All, who would gladly have seized on any such flaw or failure. Abu-Bekr was a sincere follower of Mohammed, and all the people seem to have been earnest in their endeavor to reproduce the divine message. The compilation was made within two years of the prophet's death, while yet there were official reciters and tutors of the Koran in every quarter. The very fragmentary and patchwork character of the arrangement of the book bears marks of honesty; yet passages revealed at various periods may, after all, not be all included. The very call for the recension of Othman's is, on the other hand, urged as evidence of acknowledged corruption.

The Koran as a Revelation. The Mohammedan theory is that the Koran is eternal and uncreated, and was first written in heaven on a table of vast size, called " the Preserved Table;" that a copy of this volume was made on paper, and brought by Gabriel down to the lowest heaven in the month of Ramadan, from which copy the work was at various times communicated to the prophet. The whole was shown to Mohammed once a year, and the last year of his life he saw it twice.

The evidence relied on to prove its inspiration, so far as'found within the Koran itself, is as follows:

1. That Mohammed was foretold by Jesus in these words: "Oh children of Israel, I bring glad tidings of an apostle who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad" (sura 6). Ahmad is from the same root, and has almost the same meaning as Mohammed. A passage of the New Test. ( John 16:7), in which Christ promises to send the Comforter, is wrested for the same service, as also are  Psalms 1:2, and  Deuteronomy 33:2.

2. Some suppose that the Koran contains accounts of miracles worked by Mohammed. The 24th sura contains what some Mohammedans interpret as an account of Mohammed's Splitting The Moon. The Mohammedan critics are not agreed themselves as to whether the prophet there speaks in the future or past tense. Whether he does not merely affirm that the moon shall be split before the day of judgment admits of question. Mohammed elsewhere in the Koran distinctly and repeatedly denies that he could or would work miracles (sura 13-17, etc.). The night journey of Mohammed from Mecca to Jerusalem (sura 17), and the conversion of the jinns or genii who heard him reading the Koran (sura 46, 72), are also referred to as miracles by the Mohammedans, but it is doubtful if the language in the Koran was intended to assert what it has since been made to support. Various passages are referred to by Mohammedans to show that their prophet foretold future events -as the account in the 30th sura about the Greeks being overcome; but the commentators are not agreed as to the reference (sura 24, 27-48).

3. But the predictions in the Koran were never referred to as evidence of Mohammed's inspiration. The real testimony to the inspiration of the Koran appealed to throughout by Mohammedans is the book itself. The author of it everywhere appeals to it as a literary miracle: it is " uncreated" and "eternal" (Sale, p. 46); it could not have been composed by any but God (Sale, p. 169); Mohammed challenges men and genii to produce a chapter like it (Sale, p. 169-235); no revelation could be more self-evident (Sale, p. 136); it contains all thing, necessary to know (Sale, p. 221, 273); it was so wonderful that it was traduced by its enemies as a piece of sorcery (Sale, p. 166), as a poetical composition (Sale, p. 364); it was not liable to corruption (Sale, p. 175), and should not be touched by the ceremonially unclean (Sale, p. 437).

The Style of the Koran. It is difficult to make a precise judgment of its merits. It was written in a dialect of Arabic which may now almost be called a dead language. It is composed in a kind of balanced prose, with frequent rhyming terminations; a sort of composition once greatly admired by the Syrian Christians, but in Europe neither the poetic cadence nor the jingling sound is deemed suitable to prose composition. Some learned Mussulmans have not considered it remarkably beautiful (Pocock's Specimen Hist. Arabum, ed. White, p. 224; Maracci, Prodromnts, 3:75; Lee's Martyn's Tracts, p. 124, 135). Gibbon is probably too severe in his judgment if his remarks have reference to its manner and not to its matter, when he calls it an " inccoherent rhapsody of fable, and precept, and declamation, which sometimes crawls in the dust, and sometimes is lost in the clouds" (Decl. and Fall Roman Empire, i, ip. 365, Milman's edition). Some affirm that Hamzah benAhmed wrote a book against the Koran with at least equal elegance; and Maslema another, which surpassed it, and occasioned a defection of a great number of Mussulmans. There is perhaps little reason to differ from the representations of Mr. Sale when he says, " The Koran is usually allowed to be written with tile utmost elegance and purity of language in the dialect of the Koreish, the most noble and polite of all the Arabians, but with some mixture, though very rarely, of other dialects. It is confessedly the standard of the Arabic tongue, and, as the more orthodox believe, and are taught by the book itself, inimitable by any human pen (though some sectaries have been of another opinion), and therefore insisted on as a permanent miracle, greater than that of raising the dead, and alone sufficient to convince the world of its divine original" (Koran, p. 43).

Relation to the Bible. The Koran maintains that revelation is gradual, and that God has given written revelations to many prophets from time to time, none of which are extant except the Pentateuch of Moses, the Psalm s of David, and the Gospel of Jesus; that God revives, and republishes or reproduces from time to time his revelations through his prophets, according to the necessity of the case. The three revelations-Jewish, Christian, and that of the Mussulman are equally inspired and divine. The preceding Scriptures are, however, to be interpreted according to the latest revelation, and are liable to have their ordinances modified in conformity therewith. A distinction is thus made between belief in and obligation to obey these precepts. The Jewish and Christian Scriptures are variously spoken of as " the Word of God," "Book of God," Taureat, etc.; they are described as " revelations made by God in ages preceding the Koran." Exhortations are given "to judge" in accordance therewith. Mohammed himself was sent " to attest the former Scriptures," etc. (Compare passages in the following suras: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29, 32, 34, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 48, 53, 54, 61, 62, 66, 74, 80, 87, 98.)

There are various correspondences with these Scriptures, as in the accounts of the fall of Adam and Eve, the narratives of Noah and the deluge, of Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Isaac, Moses, Joseph, Zacharias, John the Baptist, etc. The contradictions are, however, innumerable: e.g. one of Noah's sons was drowned in the Delluge (sura 11); the wife of Pharaoh saved Moses (sura 28); the wind was subject to Solomon (sura 21); Solomon was driven from his kingdom; devils built for Solomon, other devils dived for him (ibid.); thousands of dead Israelites were raised to life (sura 3); Ezra and his ass died for a hundred years, and were then raised to life (sura 2); the grossest being that Jesus was not crucified, and is not the Son of God (sura 4).

Sources of Jewish and Christian Elements. The Jewish and Christian elements in the Koran are readily to be accounted for. Jews from all parts of Arabia were in yearly attendance at the great fairs of Ocatz, Mujanna, Dzul,iMajaz. etc., and great mercantile journeys were made from Mecca to Syria, Yemen, and Abyssinia at least once a year. Christianity was established in these quarters. Some Arabs even reached much further. (thman ibn-Huweirith, a. citizen of Mecca, went to Constantinople, and subsequently returned a baptized Christian. Arabs frequented the Christian courts of Nira and Ghassan, which adjoined Arabia on the north. Mohammed himself had been twice to Medina. More than a hundred of his followers found refuge in the Christian court of Abyssinia, both before and after the Hegira. Embassies were sent by Mohammed to the Roman and Persian courts, to Abyssinian and other Christian chiefs. "Mohammed had connection with Jews and Christians of every quarter of the civilized world" (Muir's Testimony, p. 118 119). There are, moreover, many prominent individual cases : Zeid was of Syria, among whom Christianity prevailed. He was captured and sold into slavery, and was presented to Khadija shortly after her marriage to Mohammed, who loved him, and adopted him as his own son. He learned Hebrew. Waraca, a cousin of Khadija, was a convert to Christianity, acquainted with the religious tenets and sacred Scriptures of the Jews and Christians, copied or translated some portion of the Gospel in Arabic or Hebrew, and was of the family of Mohammed. The slaves generally of Mecca knew something of Christianity and Judaism (Muir's Mohammed).

Mohammedans, however, do not admit that our present Scriptures are trustworthy, but believe them to have been interpolated and otherwise corrupted. They quote a great number of passages of the Koran to establish this. Mr. Muir (Testimony, p. 119 sq.) nevertheless shows that there is no charge in the Koran against the Christians on this account, and that even those against the Jews are of " hiding, concealing" the whole, and not of corrupting.

Doctrines and Morals.-The contents of the Koran as the basis of Mohammedanism will be considered under that head, while for questions more closely connected with authorship and chronology we must refer to MOHAMMED. Briefly it may be stated here that " the chief doctrine laid down in it is the unity of God, and the existence of but one true religion, with changeable ceremonies. When mankind turned from it at different times, God sent prophets to lead them back to truth; Moses, Christ, and Mohammed being the most distinguished. Both punishments for the sinner and rewards for the pious are depicted with great diffuseness, and exemplified chiefly by stories taken from the Bible, the apocryphal writings, and the Midrash. Special laws and directions, admonitions to moral and divine virtues, more particularly to a complete and unconditional resignation to God's will, legends, principally relating to the patriarchs, and, almost without exception, borrowed from the Jewish writings (known to Mohammed by oral communication only, a circumstance which accounts for their often odd confusion), form the bulk of the book, which throughout bears the most palpable traces of Jewish influence" (Chambers, Cyclop. s.v.).

Outward Reverence. The Mohammedans regard the Koran with great esteem, never holding it below the girdle nor touching it without purification. It is consulted on all matters of importance, and is the basis of the entire civil code and procedure of all Mohammedan countries. Sentences from it are inscribed on their banners: they are written on tissue paper, and are suspended in gold and silver lockets from their necks. The materials of its binding are often costly, being emblazoned with gold and precious stones. Mohammedans much dislike to see the book in tie hands of "infidels," as they call all but Islamites. The bazaars or streets in which it is sold in Constantinople have become almost as sacred as mosques, and the dealers in the Koran have come to be as much reverenced as the preacher. Kemal Bey has recently had photographed a famous copy of the Koran, written nearly two hundred years ago (in 1094 of the Hegira) by Hafiz Osman, from the MSS. of Al-Kari, a celebrated doctor (Friend o' India, Nov. 2, 1871; also Athenceum). Multitudes of Mussulmans know the entire Koran by heart; these are called Hafiz, and are much venerated in consequence.

Translations, Commentaries, Editions, etc. Various versions of the Koran have been made. Mohammedans do not object to this (Sale, p. 50). Of French translations we have those of Du Rover, Savary (with notes, 1783), Garcia de Tassy (1829), and Kassi Mirski (1840). In Latin there is an early one (A.D. 1143) by Retenensis, an Englishman (Basle, 1543), and an Italian one from it-both condemned by Sale. The Latin translation of Maracci (1698) is much quoted by authors. In German we have those of Megerlin (1772),Wahl (1828), and Ullmann (1840). In English there is Rodwell's (1862), and the excellent one with notes by George Sale (first edit. 1734; last, Lond. 1861); also Lane's Selections from the Koran (Lond. 1843, 12mo). Besides these there are a great number of Persian, Turkish, Malay, Hindustani, and other translations, made for the benefit of the various Eastern Moslems. Of concordances to the Koran may be mentioned that of Fltigel (Leipz. 1842), and the Nujum al-Furkan (Calcutta, 1811).

The Koran has been commented upon so often that the names of the commentators alone would fill volumes. Thus, the library of Tripoli, in Syria, is reported to have once contained no less than 20,000 commentaries. The most renowned are those of Samachshari (died 539 Hegira), Beidhavi (died 685 or 716 Hegira), Mahalli (died 870 Hegira), and Sovuti (died 911 Hegira). The American Orientai Society has in its library at New Haven a superior copy of the Persian Commentary on the Koran, by Kamal ed-Din Husain (2 vols. in one, folio). For a lull list of these and the Oriental translations and editions of the Koran, see Trubner's pamphlet, A Catalogue of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Books printed in the East (Egypt, Tunis, Oudh, Bombay, etc.). (See Arabic Language).

The principal editions are those of Hinkelmann (Hamburg, 1694), Maracci (Padua, 1698), Fligel (Leipzig, 3d ed. 1838, a splendid one), besides many editions (of small critical value) printed in St. Petersburg, Kasan, Teheran, Calcutta, Cawnpore, Serampore, and the many newly erected Indian presses.

Literature. In addition to the above, special reference may be made to W. Muir, The Testimony borne by the Koran to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures (Allahabad, India, 1860); Prof. Gerock, Christologie des Koran (Hamburg, 1839); Muir, Life of Mahomet (Lond. 1860), vol. iv (the first volume being almost entirely occupied with a discussion of the sources available for such a biography); a valuable article in the Calcutta Review, vol. 19; the Journal Asiatique, July, 1838, p. 41 sq.; De Tassy, Doctrines et devoirs de lt Religion Musulmane tires du Coran; White (Bampton Lectures), Comparison of Mohammedanism and Christianity; Neal, Islamism, its Rise and Progress (2 vols. 12mo-valueless); Letters to Indian Youth, by Dr. Murray Mitchell, of Bombay; Life and Religion of Mohammed, in accordance with the Shiite Traditions of the Hlezat al- Kulud (translated from the Persian by Rev. J. L. Merrick, Boston, 1850); Noldeke Theodor), Gesch. d. Quoran (Gotting. 1860); Well, Hisiorische Einleit. in den Koran (Bielf. 1844); Weil, Mohammed der Prophet sein Leben u. s. Lehre (Stuttg. 1843, 8vo); Sprenger, Leben u. Lehre von Muhammed (Berlin, 1861); Kremer, Alfred von, Gesch. d. herrschenden Ideen des Islams (Lpz. 1868); Perceval (Caussin de), Essai sur l'histoire des Arabes, avant Islamisme, pendant l'epoque de Mahomet, et jusqu'a la Reduction De Toutes Les Tribus Sous La Loi Mussulmane (Paris, 1847-8, 3 vols. 8vo); and especially Series of Essays on the Life of Mohamnmed, and Subjects subsidiary thereto, by Seyd Ahmed Khan Bahader (London, 1870); Amer. Presb. Rev. Oct. 1862. p. 754; Revue des deux Mondes, Sept. 1,1865. On the Christology of the Koran, see the Studien u. Krit. 1838-1847; Kitto, Journal Sacred Liter. 28:479; Lond. Quart. .Review, Oct. 1869, p. 160 sq. (J. T. G.)

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [4]

E . book to be read), the Bible of the Mohammedans, accepted among them as "the standard of all law and all practice; thing to be gone upon in speculation and life; it is read through in the mosques daily, and some of their doctors have read it 70,000 times, and hard reading it is"; it contains the teaching of Mahomet, collected by his disciples after his death, and arranged the longest chapters first and the shortest, which were the earliest, last; a confused book.