The Qur’an (Arabic: القرآن al-qur’ān, literally “the recitation”; also sometimes transliterated as Quran, 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.
Islam holds that the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad by the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel) over a period of approximately twenty-three years, beginning in 610 CE, when he was forty, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. Followers of Islam further believe that the Qur’an was written down by Muhammad's companions while he was alive, although the primary method of transmission was oral. Muslim tradition agrees that it was fixed in writing shortly after Muhammad's death by order of the caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar, and that their orders began a process of formalization of the orally transmitted text that was completed under their successor Uthman with the standard edition known as the "Uthmanic recension." The present form of the Qur’an is accepted by most scholars as the original version authored or dictated by Muhammad.
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 Ibrahim (Sefer Yetzirah or Scrolls of Abraham), the Tawrat (Torah or Pentateuch),the Zabur (Tehillim or Book of Psalms), and the Injeel (Christian Gospel). The contents of the aforementioned books are not physically affixed within the Qur’an, but are recognized therein.
The Qur’an also refers to many events from Jewish and Christian scriptures, some of which are retold in comparatively distinctive ways from the Torah and New Testament respectively, 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. Muslims believe the Qur'an itself to be the main miracle of Muhammad and a proof of his prophethood.
The text of the Qur’an consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura. 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. 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 except the ninth commences with the Basmala, an Arabic phrase meaning (“In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”). There are, however, still 114 occurrences of the basmala in the Qur’an, due to its presence in verse 27:30 as the opening of Solomon's letter to the Queen of Sheba.
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 Kufa school tradition, contains 6,236 ayat.
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).
The Qur’anic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its nonlinear structure being akin to a web or net. The textual arrangement is sometimes considered to have lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order, and presence of repetition.
Fourteen 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, which is mentioned in Sura 74:30 of the Qur’an.