I also found this by a member of the translation committee.
WHAT IS THE Qur’an?
One may answer this question by the following definition: “The Qur’an is a book of guidance which is itself a miracle.” It is a book of guidance because it was sent direct to mankind along the path of happiness and salvation, and it is a miracle because it was vouchsafed as a revelation to the blessed prophet of Islam
. An understanding of the book, therefore, demands an understanding of these two concepts. The Arabic word “Qur’an” is a verbal noun which gives the sense of reading and reciting. The word is thus used inside the Qur’anic text itself: “Do not move your tongue [with the revelation] to hasten it. Ours it is to gather it and recite it. But when we have recited it, follow its recital. Then ours it is to make it clear.” (76: 16-19)
Although it has this general meaning, the word Qur’an in the course of time came to be applied to mushaf, the entirety of the revealed text which is composed of surahs (chapters) and ayat (verses), and which begins with Suratu’l-Fatiha and ends with Suratu’n-Nas.
The word Qur’an is applied to the book in its entirety, and also to any individual component thereof. Although The Qur’an has a has a considerable number of names, including the Book (al-Kitab), the Criterion (al-Furqan), the Remembrance (al-Dhikr), and the sending Down (al-Tanzil), the best known name is “the Qur’an.”
The word Qur’an is also used in conjunction with a range if adjectives, including the Clear/Clarifier (al-Mubin), the Light (al-Nur), the Guidance (al-Huda) the Mercy (al-Rahmah), the Cure (al-Shifa), the Admonition (al-Maw’izah), the Good News (al-Bushra), the bringer of Good News (al-Bashir), the Warner (al-Nadhir), the Precious/Noble (al-Aziz).
In its specific, technical meaning, the “Qur’an” is “the book progressively revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) over a period of twenty three years, which constitutes a miracle both in its language and sense, and the recitation by which God is worshiped.”
The Qur’anic text is distinguished by the following five characteristics:
1) Gradualness of revelation.
2) Revealed status.
3) Status as a miracle, both in its text and concepts.
4) Status as an instrument of worship.
5) Status as God’s own speech.
The fact that the Majestic Qur’an was revelled gradually over a twenty-three year period reflects the human need for gradual, progressive education and guidance. To grow accustomed to something radically new and then to adopt it requires of time and energy, both for the habitation and reflection. More than anything, a new religion should give people time to grow used to its injunctions and norms. Hence the Qur’an’s gradual revelation.
The Qur’an is a revelation from heaven, cast by the Archangel Gabriel into the heart of the prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace). It is, hence, the word of God, not of man. The Blessed Prophet received it as revelation, and he, in turn, recited it to his people without the least addition or subtraction every word and letter is hence from God.
Both the words and the concepts of the Qur’an are miraculous. In Islam, a miracle is defined as an event which cannot be emulated by man. In all the specific features of the Book: its revelation, recitation, writing, preservation, arrangement, style of addressing issues, furnishing of information about the Hereafter, and the accuracy of the facts it brings to mankind, it differs from the works of literature which are produced by human minds. The ancient Arabs used to call a poetic anthology a diwan, whose parts were termed qasidah, its lines bayt, and its rhyme qafiyah. But the Book sent from Allah to His Messenger is called Qur’an, its parts or chapters are called surah, its verses ayah, and the ends of its ayahs, or fasilah.
Human literary productions are either in poetry of prose. The Majestic Qur’an, however, is in neither of these genres. Nether can it be turned music, although it posses a system of tonality and rhythm that is aesthetically superb, being of Divine authorship.
Another feature of the Qur’an is that it is a Book the recitation of which is itself an act of worship. In addition to its liturgical use in the Salat (the indispensable five-times daily worship of the Muslims), it is recited independently as a devotional act. To teach it, to learn it, to gear it, even to look at its writing is an act of worship.
As salat is a duty upon every Muslim, male and female, and reciting passages from the Qur’an is an indispensable part of the salat, it is necessary for every Muslim to learn and be able to recite at least a few verses of the Book. This must be done in the Arabic of the original Revelation.
The Qur’an is the eternally pre-existent Speech of God. The text and its constituent verses, which we recite with our tongues, listen to with our ears, write with our hands, look at with our eyes, and touch with our fingers, is a manifestation of God’s pre-existent Speech in this material world. The source-book of the Qur’an is called al-Lawh al-Mahfuz (the “Well-preserved Tablet”). The first stage in its manifestation took place when God revealed it collectively (inzal) to the metaphysical location known as Baytul- Izzah (the “Abode of Glory”). From there is was revealed to our Prophet through Gabriel individually (the process known as tanzil). Words revealed by God literally to His prophet are thus called Qur’an, and are distinguished from words revealed in meaning only, not in literreal form, which are called Hadith
Qudsi (“Sacred Tradition”). Words, acts and affirmations preceding the Blessed Prophet are called Hadith Nabawi (“Prophetic Tradition”).
The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be blessings and peace) described the Majestic Qur’an as:
“…the Book of God. It contains the story of what was before you the news of what will come after you and a Law that judges between you. It is the definitive statement. It is not a jest. Whoever abandons it out of arrogance, God will utterly destroy, and whoever seeks guidance apart from it, God will lead astray. It is God’s strong rope [of salvation]. It is the wise reminder. It is the Straight Path. It is that which capricious passions cannot divert and tongues cannot pervert. The people of learning cannot satisfy their appetite for it. It will never wear thin from much repetition. Its wonders will never cease. [It is the Book] which, when the spirits heard it [recited], they could not part before saying: “We have head a wondrous Recital, which guides to uprightness.” Whoever speaks in accordance with it is believed. Whoever acts in accordance with it, will be [highly] rewarded. Whoever judges in accordance with it, will be just. Whoever summons [others] to it, will be guided to a straight path.” (At-Timirmidhi in the Chapter of What Has Been Transmitted Regarding the Excellence of the Qur’an.)
The Qur’an was sent down in Arabic. Was this because the blessed Prophet was sent among the Arabs, who ere the best-suited nation to follow a new religion, or is there another reason? It would seem futile to attempt a precise answer to this question, since had it been set in another language, the identical question would have arisen. Such matters belong to the unseen and can be known only imperfectly.
The Qur’an is sent to all mankind, despite the fact of its Arabic revelation; and its Prophet, while an Arab, is a Prophet for all mankind. How then may the Book’s message be proclaimed to the world? Either mankind may be asked to study and master Classical Arabic—an unfair demand—or the attempt should be made to convey its concepts in other languages.
Hence the Majestic Qur’an’s impact on mankind takes place through two channels:
1) As a revealed text, the repetition of whose words bring grace. The Arabic Qur’an is memorised, read and listened to, recited in prayers, thereby affecting the souls of mankind.
2) The Qur’an has been translated in to hundreds of languages, in some of which commentaries have also been written.
The influence of the Book on today’s world is incalculable. It appears that in almost every country, young people are finding inspiration in its message. And in the West, too, our experience is that conversions place in many cases through the channel of the Qur’an, often in the most unexpected ways. Here again we are forced with the books miraculous nature, which seems certain to continue its influence in our age, and, God willing, until the Day of Judgement.
Prof. Ali Ozek
The Majestic Qur’an – An English Rendition of its Meanings.
Translation Committe: Ali Ozek, Nureddin Uzunoglu, Tevfik R. Topuzoglu, Mehmet Maksutoglu.
Edited by: Abdul Hakim Murad, Mustafa Badawi, Uthman Hutchinson.
The Nawawi Foundation (Chicago).