© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Possibly the most influential channelled text doesn't even have a real name.
We know it as القرآن‎ (the Quran), which simply means “the recitation”,
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The name can also be transliterated Koran, Qur’an, and al-Qur’an, and it is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider to the verbatim word of الله (the God - Allah) and the final divine revelation - the Final Testament.
It is regarded by most Muslims as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language - in fact the finest piece of literature in any language.
Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed through the angel Jibril (Gabriel) from God to Muhammad gradually over a period of approximately twenty-three years beginning in 610 CE, when Muhammad was forty, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death.

Furthermore, Muslims believe that the Qur'an was precisely memorized, recited and exactly written down by Muhammad's companions, called Sahabas, after each revelation had been dictated by Muhammad.
Shortly after Muhammad's death the Quran was compiled into a single book by order of the first Caliph ,Abu Bakr, and at the suggestion of his future successor Umar.
Hafsa, who was Muhammad's widow, (Muhammaf has eleven  - or possibly thirteen wivws) and Umar's daughter, was entrusted with that Quran text after the second Caliph Umar died.
When Uthman, the third Caliph, began to notice slight differences in Arabic dialect he asked Hafsa to allow him to use the text in her possession to be set as the standard dialect, the Quraish dialect - the Qurash being Muhammed's tribe.
Before returning the text to Hafsa Uthman made several thousand copies of Abu Bakr's redaction and, to standardize the text, invalidated all other versions of the Quran.
This process of formalization is known as the "Uthmanic recension".
The present form of the Quran text is accepted by many scholars as the original version compiled by Abu Bakr.
It should be noted, however, that there is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in any form before the last decade of the seventh century.

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According to Muslim tradition, Mohammed was illiterate, however, the first Quranic revelation that came down to Muhammad is, "Read ! In the name of your Lord who creates...." (96:1)
It is clear that this is also a commandment.
God stresses the importance of literacy in the very first revelation.
Furthermore, the second revelation (Sura) is "The Pen", which indicates again the importance of written communication.
This makes the importance of literacy even more compelling.
If indeed Muhammad was an illiterate man when the Quran was first revealed to him, how could he not make himself learn to read and write during the twenty some years of his mission ?
Perhaps a more poignant question should be, "How dare he not to obey his Lord’s clear commandment to read and write ?"
Being a messenger of God, of course he would not dare disobeying his Lord.
Also, in the Quran 25:4-5 there is a verse, where Muhammad’s opponents, who rejected the divine source of the Quran, accused him of fabricating narrations. "Tales from the past that he wrote down; they were dictated to him day and night," they alleged.
This is a clear Quranic evidence that Prophet Muhammad was a literate man.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Muhammed is unusual in that there are detailed and confirmed descriptions of his beheviour when he claimed to receive communications from the entity he called  جبريل (Jibrīl)

جبريل (Jibrīl)

According to the Quran , Gabriel (Jibra'il) the angel who revealed the Qur'an to the prophet Muhammad, and sent a message to most prophets, if not all, revealing their obligations.
Gabriel is named numerous times in the Qur'an (II: 97, 98; LXVI: 4); and, in II: 97, the Qur'an expressly narrates:

'Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this scripture) to thy heart by God's leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers.'

He is called the chief of the four favoured angels and the spirit of truth.
He is called the created Holy Spirit (Islam), which is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit of God in Christianity who is revered as God Himself.
In Muslim tradition, Gabriel occupies the role of one of the primary archangels and all historical commentaries build upon Gabriel's role as the transmitter of the Qur'an. 
Exegesis narrates that Muhammad saw Gabriel in his full angelic splendor only twice, the first being when he received his first revelation. 
Muslims also revere Gabriel for a number of historical events predating the first revelation. 
Muslims believe that Gabriel was the angel who informed Zachariah of John's birth as well as Mary of the future birth of Jesus and that Gabriel was one of three angels who had earlier informed Abraham of the birth of Isaac. 
These events of Zachariah and Mary can be found also in the Quran, mentioned in surah Maryam.

'The Revelation is always brought to me by an angel: sometimes it is delivered to me as the beating sound of the bell (?) - and this is the hardest experience for me; but sometimes the angel appears to me in the shape of a human, and speaks to me.'

'Those who saw the Prophet in this state relate that his condition would change.
Sometimes he would stay motionless, as if some terribly heavy load was pressed on him and, even in the coldest day, drops of sweat would fall from his forehead.
At other times he would move his lips.'
'He fell to the ground like one intoxicated or overcome by sleep; and in the coldest day his forehead would be bedewed with large drops of perspiration.
Inspiration descended unexpectedly, and without any previous warning.'
'Then Allah's Apostle returned with that experience; and the muscles between his neck and shoulders were trembling till he came upon Khadija (his wife) and said, "Cover me !".
They covered him, and when the state of fear was over'.

All these are symptoms of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.
The following is a partial list of the Temporal Lobe Seizure Symptoms & Signs as defined in 

Hallucinations, or illusions, such as hearing voices when no one has spoken, seeing patterns, lights, beings or objects that aren't there.
Rhythmic muscle contraction. Muscle cramps are involuntary and often painful contractions of the muscles which produce a hard, bulging muscle.
Abdominal pain or discomfort. Sudden, intense emotion such as fear. Muscle twitching (fasciculation) is the result of spontaneous local muscle contractions that are involuntary and typically only affect individual muscle groups. This twitching does not cause pain.
Abnormal mouth behaviors. Abnormal head movements. Sweating. Flushed face. Rapid heart rate/pulse.
Changes in vision, speech, thought, awareness, personality 
Loss of memory (amnesia) regarding events around the seizure (partial complex seizure).

Muḥammad himself could not at first identify the spirit that possessed him, and the Qurʾān mentions him by name only three times.
Jibrīl, however, became Muḥammad’s constant helper.
He and the archangel Mīkāl purified Muḥammad’s heart in preparation for the Prophet’s ascension to heaven (miʿrāj), and then Jibrīl guided him through the various levels until they reached the throne of God.
When Muḥammad recited a supposed revelation acknowledging the pagan goddesses al-Lāt, al-ʿUzzā, and Manāt, (the Satanic Verses), Jibrīl chastised him for presenting as divine a message inspired by the devil.
Jibrīl also helped Muḥammad in times of political crises, coming to his aid at the Battle of Badr (624) with thousands of angels, then telling him to attack the Jewish tribes of Banū Qaynuqāʿ and Banū Qurayẓah.
There is evidence that Muhammad, as he grew older, was less effected by his temporal lobe epilepsy.
The early channelled communications, commonly called the 'Meccan Suras' (sura - chapter), are very different when compared to the later suras, usually reffered to as the 'Medinan Suras'.
The Meccan Suras have a beauty and an imaginative quality that is often found in genuine channelled texts (Crowley's 'Book of the Law for example).
The Medinan Suras are lifeless in comparison, (and much longer on average), and primarily concerned with the military and political scheming that preoccupied Muhammad when he became a general and political leader.
It has been suggested, therefore, that the early suras were channelled, while the later suras (which were still claimed to be from Jibrīl), were, in fact, composed by Muhammad unaided.

The Meccan suras are the chronologically earlier suras of the Qur'an that were, according to Islamic tradition, revealed anytime before the Hijrah (pilgrimage of the Prophet Muhammed from Makkah to Medina). The other type of sura is the Madinan sura.
Meccan suras are typically shorter, with relatively short ayat, and mostly come near the end of the Qur'an. 
The division of surahs into 'Meccan surahs' and 'Medinan surahs' is primarily a consequence of stylistic and thematic considerations. Classification of the surahs into these periods is based upon factors such as the length of the verse and the presence or absence of certain key concepts.

The Book

Muslims consider the Quran to be the only book that has been protected by God from distortion or corruption, however, some significant textual variations (employing different wordings) and deficiencies in the Arabic script mean the relationship between the text of today's Quran and an original text is unclear.
Quranic chapters are called suras and verses are called ayahs.
The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in the Jewish and Christian scriptures.
It summarizes some, dwells at length on others and, in some cases, presents alternative accounts and interpretations of events.
The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance.
It sometimes offers detailed accounts of specific historical events, and it often emphasizes the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence.
The Quran is used along with the hadith to interpret sharia law.
During prayers the Quran is recited only in Arabic.
Some influential scholars say it is not one single work, that has survived unchanged through the centuries.
Based on the analysis of manuscripts, there is evidence that the Quran contains stories that were written before the prophet Mohammed began his ministry, and which have subsequently been rewritten.
The Quran frequently asserts in its text that it is divinely ordained.
Some verses in the Quran seem to imply that even those who do not speak Arabic would understand the Quran if it were recited to them.
The Quran refers to a written pre-text, "the preserved tablet", that records God's speech even before it was sent down.
The issue of whether the Quran is eternal or created became a theological debate (Quran's createdness) in the ninth century.
Mu'tazilas, an Islamic school of theology based on reason and rational thought, held that the Quran was created while the most widespread varieties of Muslim theologians considered the Quran to be co-eternal with God, (thus breaching the concept of  توحيد‎ - Tawhid), and therefore uncreated.

توحيد‎ tawḥīd, meaning "doctrine of Oneness" (of God), is the concept of monotheism in Islam.
It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds that God (Allah) is One (Wāḥid) and Unique (āḥad).

Sufi philosophers, probably rightly, view the question as artificial or wrongly framed.
Muslims believe that the present wording of the Quran corresponds to that revealed to Muhammad, and according to their interpretation of Quran 15:9, it is protected from corruption ("Indeed, it is We who sent down the Quran and indeed, We will be its guardian.").
The question as to why previous revelations were allowed to be corrupted is left open.
Muslims consider the Quran to be a guide, a sign of the prophet-hood of Muhammad and the truth of the religion.
They argue it is not possible for a human to produce a book like the Quran, as the Quran itself maintains.
Many critics, however, reject the idea that the Quran is miraculously perfect and impossible to imitate
The basis for this view is that peculiarities can be found in the text.
For example, critics note that a sentence in which something is said concerning Allah is sometimes followed immediately by another in which Allah is the speaker (examples of this are suras xvi. 81, xxvii. 61, xxxi. 9, and xliii. 10.)
Many peculiarities in the positions of words are due to the necessities of rhyme (lxix. 31, lxxiv. 3), while the use of many rare words, and new forms may be traced to the same cause (comp. especially xix. 8, 9, 11, 16).
The Quran has also been described as having many passages of poetic beauty, religious fervour, and wise counsel, but mixed with absurdities, bombast, unmeaning images, and low sensuality.
It has also been noted that the Quran is a redaction in part of other sacred scriptures, in particular the Judaeo-Christian scriptures, and some scholars have described the Quran as a 'cocktail of texts', some of which may have been present a hundred years before Muhammad.
Naskh (نسخ) is an Arabic language word usually translated as "abrogation"; it shares the same root as the words appearing in the phrase al-nāsikh wal-mansūkh (الناسخ والمنسوخ, "the abrogater and the abrogated verses").
The concept of "abrogation" in the Quran is that God chose to reveal ayat (singular ayah; means a sign or miracle, commonly a verse in the Quran) that supersede earlier ayat in the same Quran.
The central ayah that deals with abrogation is Surah 2:106:
"We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent ?"
It has been suggested that the concept of abrogation was developed to "remove" the many contradictions found in the Quran.
The incident of the 'Satanic Verses' is put forward by some critics as evidence of the Quran's origins as a human work of Muhammad.

أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ اللَّاتَ وَالْعُزَّى
وَمَنَاةَ الثَّالِثَةَ الْأُخْرَى
أَلَكُمُ الذَّكَرُ وَلَهُ الْأُنثَى

تِلْكَ إِذًا قِسْمَةٌ ضِيزَى. سورة النجم - سورة ‏٥٣: ١٩-٢٢‏

This can be interpreted as a conscious attempt to achieve a consensus with pagan Arabs, which was then consciously rejected as incompatible with Muhammad's attempts to answer the criticism of contemporary Arab Jews and Christians, linking it with the moment at which Muhammad felt able to adopt a "hostile attitude" towards the pagan Arabs.
The story of the 'Satanic Verses' is unlikely to be false because it was one incident which may be reasonably accepted as true because the makers of Muslim tradition would not have invented a story with such damaging implications for the revelation as a whole".

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Text and Arrangement

The Quran consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura.
Suras are classified as 'Meccan' or 'Medinan', depending on whether the verses were revealed before or after the migration of Muhammad to the city of Medina, however, a sura classified as Medinan may contain Meccan verses in it and vice versa.
Sura titles are derived from a name or quality discussed in the text, or from the first letters or words of the surah.
Suras are arranged roughly in order of decreasing size.
The sura arrangement is thus not connected to the sequence of revelation - which makes the book very difficult to read and comprehend.
The Quranic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its non-linear structure being akin to a web or net.
The textual arrangement has a lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order, and contains much that is repetitious and confusing.
A text is self-referential when it speaks about itself and makes reference to itself.
The Quran demonstrates this meta-textuality by explaining, classifying, interpreting and justifying the words to be transmitted.
Self-referentiality is evident in those passages when the Quran refers to itself as revelation (tanzil), remembrance (dhikr), news (naba'), criterion (furqan), explicitly asserting its Divinity, "And this is a blessed Remembrance that We have sent down; so are you now denying it ?", or in the frequent appearance of the 'Say' tags, when Muhammad is commanded to speak (e.g. "Say: 'God's guidance is the true guidance' ", "Say: 'Would you then dispute with us concerning Godb ?'").
The feature is more evident in early Meccan suras.
Each sura, except the ninth, starts with the 'Bismillah' (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) an Arabic phrase meaning 'In the name of God.'
Each sura consists of several verses, known as ayat, which originally means a 'sign' or 'evidence' sent by God.
The number of verses differs from sura to sura.
An individual verse may be just a few letters or several lines.
The total number of verses in the Quran is 6236, however, the number varies if the 'bismillahs' are counted separately.
'Muqatta'at', or the Quranic initials, are 14 different letter combinations of 14 Arabic letters that appear in the beginning of 29 suras of the Quran.
The meanings of these initials remain unclear - and have often been given mystical significance.


The Quran has much in common with the Book of Mormon.
Both books describe a basically eclectic, syncretic religion.

Syncretic - Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. It is especially associated with the attempt to merge and analogize several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, and thus assert an underlying unity.
Syncretism is also common in literature, music, the representational arts and other expressions of culture. (Compare the concept of eclecticism.) There also exist syncretic politics, although in political classification the term has a somewhat different meaning.

Both Mormonism and Islam draw heavily on Judeo-Christian themes and orthodox Christian doctrine, while adding their own peculiar narratives, doctrines and practices.
Initially Islam, along with Mormonism at a later date, were considered to be heretical forms of Christianity - hence the Crusades with regards to Islam.
Later, however, they were both considered by some to be separate, non-Christian faiths.
In fact they are eclectic, syncretic amalgams of various Jewish, Christian and Gnostic narratives and doctrines.

The Quran recounts many of the stories of the Jewish Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses), including the story of Adam and Eve, The Story of Abraham, and the Story of Moses and the Exodus.
Also included, and coming from the Gospels is the Nativity Narrative, and details about the death of Jesus.
It is obvious that Muhammad obtained his information about Christianity from various Gnostic Christian groups - (he refers to the monks in the desert) - docetists who were active in the middle East at the time.

Docetism (from the Greek δοκεἲν/δόκησις dokein (to seem) /dókēsis (apparition, phantom), is defined narrowly as "the doctrine according to which the phenomenon of Christ, his historical and bodily existence, and thus above all the human form of Jesus, was altogether mere semblance without any true reality."
The Qur'an has a docetic or gnostic Christology, viewing Jesus as a divine illuminator (prophet), rather than the 'redeemer' or 'saviour' of Pauline Christianity.
In Sura 4:157–158 we read:
'And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger — they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise'.
The Qur'an was compiled in the mid-seventh century AD (around 650 CE), corresponding to the period when docetism was still commonly accepted and taught among some Christian sects, particularly in the Arabian peninsular.

The question, of course, remains - who, or what, was Jibrīl.

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   'The Muslims'

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

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