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The Qur'ān (Arabic: القرآن al-qur’ān, literally "the recitation"; also sometimes transliterated as Koran, Alcoran, or Al-Qur’ān) is a book held by Muslims to be holy and the final revealed word of God to mankind.
Islamic theology views the prophets from Adam to Jesus as a series of people who have received God's message via revelation and passed it on to God's people. The Prophet Muhammad is held to be the last prophet to receive God's word as a consequence of "miraculous" revelations over a span of many years. The Qur'an is considered by Muslims to be a restatement and completion of the story and teachings of the Bible.
Unlike the Bible, the Qur'an is weighted far more heavily towards theology and morality than towards recitation of stories or history. Much of the Qur'anic text is in the form of dialog or commands from God to Muhammad, instructing him on what to say.
The Qur'an is fairly widely available in translation; however, unlike the Christian Bible, it is considered a point of faith that the Qur'an is valid only in the original Arabic. According to Islamic tradition, the Qur'an was jotted down in an ad hoc fashion by Muhammad's companions on whatever writing materials were close to hand, but mainly kept in memory, and only put to paper as a cohesive text after his death. The earliest complete copies we have date from more than a century after Muhammad's death;and while the early manuscripts do have interesting differences, there isn't the same amount of textual variation that is associated with New Testament manuscripts.
The Arabic that the Qu'ran is written in is the basis for the modern standard language. Therefore, most educated Arabs have little difficulty reading the Qu'ran as it was originally written, albeit assisted by centuries of exegesis that deals with the many disputed meanings and obscure phrasings in the text. Qu'ranic Arabic is widely taught in non-Arab speaking portions (i.e. the majority) of the Muslim world.
Traditionally the Qur'an, as its name suggests, is a recited text, in preference to a written one; it is a mark of scholarship in Islam to commit the entirety of the book to memory (a person who has done this is known as a Hafiz).
There are 114 Suras in the Qur'an. Each Sura is named for either an important figure or topic in the Sura. For Example, Sura 16 is "the Honey Bee". Each Sura was written in either Medina or Mecca, and the Qur'an tells which Sura was written where.
Because of the Qur'an's lack of a "storyline", the work itself has only a loose structure. Each Sura is independent of the others, rarely if ever making reference to any other Sura. Topics in any given Sura may be repeated in some other Sura and the Sura are not grouped into some kind of "logical" structure like "Sura on Family", "Sura on Business", etc.
Like most people who founded a religion, Muhammad never wrote anything down himself; his teachings were written down by his followers much later, based on oral tradition, and then consolidated in the form of one "holy book". The study of the compilation and composition of the Qur'an as a work of literature is not as advanced as similar efforts in the case of the Bible, partly because (mostly Western) literary scholars have historically been more interested in the Bible and partly because Muslims themselves have strongly discouraged any study of the Qur'an as a text made by humans. Even so, it is nonetheless clear that the Qur'an is an amalgamated literary product of its time(s) and culture, containing traces of earlier works (cf. the documentary hypothesis). For example, the text seems to draw on pre-existing non-canonical stories about the life and crucifixion of Jesus, perhaps passed on by heterodox Christian sects in the Arabian peninsula.
 Differing interpretations
Like the Bible, the Qur'an is heavily quote mined depending on the point of view or agenda of those using the Qur'an. Also like the Bible, theological/legal disputes often arise due to differences over the correct translation/interpretation - particularly as Arabic is normally written without vowels and the text itself, 1300 years old, frequently uses archaic or obscure vocabulary. Diametrically opposed interpretations of certain Sura are not uncommon.
Given the structure of the Qu'ran, focused mainly on exhortations and instructions (not unlike the Book of Leviticus), it is easy to find attitudes or endorsement of cultural practices that the modern world would find repellent - certainly as easy at is with even a cursory study of the Bible.
There is plenty of argument within the modern western world on whether the Qur'an is an "inherently violent" or "bloodthirsty" book, or whether it actually is full of charity and compassion. Such arguments perhaps miss the point - that we should not be particularly surprised that for better or worse it essentially functions to give divine sanction to the point of view and cultural practices of 7th-century desert dwellers.
 Various Islamic Views of the Qu'ran
As with Christianity and Judaism, there are many views about the Holy Book that supposedly represents their religion's foundation, depending on the particular sect of the overall religion, or the individual him or herself.
The Qur'an itself asserts that it is a divine work, incomparably better than any human composition, and Muslims generally uphold this proposition. While particular sects and individual Muslims vary on most aspects of the Qu'ran, one thing virtually all Muslims share is the idea that the Qur'an represents the most perfect book ever written. It is the miracle of Muhammad, proof of his prophethood, and is considered a final proof of God's existence. The prophecies are considered accurate, and the poetry is considered the most beautiful words ever written.
 "Scientifically accurate"
|*Orbits: "And He is the one who created the night, daylight, sun and the moon, all swimming in an orbit". (Qu'ran, The Prophets: 33)||What is left out of the Qur'an is any mention that the sun is a star, rather numerous verses that blatantly separate them. Since this is left out of the Qur'an (and all sorts of galactic information), verses like these are unjustified about basic knowledge of what the sun actually is. The immediate flaw we see in this particular verse is why would the Qur'an make a regard to night and day if it was talking about galactic orbit? Secondly, if it is addressing orbit within a galaxy, why just the sun? Thirdly, this verse is often translated at the end as "swim along, each in its rounded course." If this is the case, why state a rounded course with no explanation on the gigantic difference between the Sun and Moon? Reading on to verse 36:40, if the verse in question was specifically in regards to the Sun's trajectory, then both the Moons orbit and the transition of day and night would not be inclusive. This is demonstrated further in verses 14;33, 21:33, 39:5, and 6:96 - which both refer to the Sun and Moons orbit (singular) immediately after or following the detailing of Night and Day. In conclusion, we find at best the Qur'an does not give any direct detail about a supposed trajectory of the Sun (or the galaxy itself) and we also find the idea is unjustified as the Qur'an does not provide any information to determine what the sun actually is or its similarity to other stars (in which the Qur'an refers to entirely separate in all contexts). The Qur'an at least appears to conform to Old World beliefs that the Sun and Moon maintain orbits around the Earth and gives nothing to demonstrate otherwise.|
|*Speed of light: No specific single verse, but another back bend of how the whole of the Qu'ran teaches this. One verse often provided is 32:5 - "He regulates the affair from the heaven to the Earth; Then shall it ascend to him in a day the measure of which is a thousand years of what you can count."|| While no specific verse is provided in the Qur'an about the speed of light, believers often pick which ones to accept, but it involves a lot of speculation and guesswork. In the above verse (32:5), believers assume that the word "affair" also translates as light, and as the verse also says that 1000 years of man is the same as 1 day of gods, and a year was originally measured by number of orbits of the moon. It can be presumed that the distance the moon travels in 1,000 years, is the same as the distance light travels in one day, so let's do some mathematics. One orbit of the moon is 1,499,618 miles, with 12 moon orbits in one year, and the Qur'an refers to 1,000 years. Therefore, that means 17,995,416,000 miles per 1,000 years. Now for Muslims to be right, the speed of light must travel the same distance in one day. The speed of light travels at 186,282.397 miles per second, there are 86,400 seconds in one day. Put it all together, light travels about 16,094,799,100.8 miles in a day. What is the difference? Muslims are wrong by 1,900,616,889.2 miles.
Richard Carrier has provided a critical refutation of the Qur'an foretelling the speed of light.
|*Water Cycle: "And it is He Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy (rain). Till when they have carried a heavy-laden cloud, We drive it to a land that is dead, then We cause water (rain) to descend thereon. Then We produce every kind of fruit therewith. Similarly, We shall raise up the dead, so that you may remember or take heed." (Sura 7:57)|
|*Meteorology (7 layers of the Atmosphere): "It is He Who created everything on the earth for you then directed His attention up to Heaven and arranged it into seven regular Heavens. He has knowledge of all things." (2:29) The website, Miracles of the Quran.com, argues that the atmosphere consists of the following,
||This is immediately debunked as if the Qur'an's verse is referring to the layers of the Earth's atmosphere then it must also be claimed that the stars are located at cloud level, as demonstrated in 41:12. The site, Miracles of the Quran.com, feels the need to include the Magnetosphere to artificially inflate the total number to 7, this layer that is not supported by Nasa.com, Wikipedia.com, Encyclopedia of Earth or about.com:weather, whose total layer numbers range from 4-9. However, the site also feels the need to include the Ionosphere as a separate layer (which overlaps the Exosphere and thermosphere) but does not feel the need to include the Ozone layer, the planetary boundary layer or any of the pauses in-between. In conclusion, the number 7 is only created from purposely being subjective and if the claimed "miracle" is to be accepted, then the Qur'an is wrong as it also states that the stars are located at cloud level.|
|*Embryology: "And that He it is who maketh laugh, and maketh weep," (Qu'ran 53:43) "This verse contains a very nice scientific indication about the lately-discovered fact that foetus has facial expressions while he is in his mother's womb, without being taught to do so."|
|*Health and Hygine: No pigs, oral hygiene, and honey's anti-oxidants, the Qu'ran has it all! (various Sura). ||Apparently, Muslims usually accept that knowledge of these certain things did not exist before the Qur'an was written. Let's address one, starting with honey (verse 16:69). Basic education in history of Ancient Egypt will demonstrate that honey played a significant role in dietary and medical standards as far back as 3,500 BCE. To state that the benefits of honey are "miraculously demonstrated in the Qur'an" is absurd. As we know, it is extremely easy for a man to see the positive effects of a food source and say "wow, this is really good for you." However, due to a lack of biological understanding at the time period, it was difficult to explain WHY these were good for you, and the Qur'an says nothing about the subject.|
As with other religious or spiritual writings that are held to demonstrate prophecies or revealed truths before they are discovered by mainstream science, there are problems accepting that anyone writing the Qu'ran was really demonstrating scientific "fact":
- Referenced verses are normally unclear and written in ambiguous or poetic language
- Those verses were not meant to be understood in context as "science" but metaphor, allegory, or simple poetry
- They do not actually describe any theory, just "reference" to things we now know (volcanoes in the sea; vast expanse of space)
- Even if you can make the leap that they are trying to describe scientific knowledge, they do not do so correctly according to modern understanding of the theory
- Of the few hypotheses that were in any way "real", most had already been made by Ancient Greeks, scientific Arabs, Indians, or Chinese well before the Qu'ran was penned
- Though the process was ongoing for thousands of years, western scientists eventually discovered everything that is supposedly "scientific" within the Qur'an, without using it as a guide. Of course, they discovered it before any Muslim claimed particular Sura were about the scientific process. Gee, surprise surprise. 
- Muslim scientists acting outside of their faith were part of the study of science - again, without referencing the Qu'ran for the "source" of their inspiration.
- No one has stepped up to the plate and proposed that some verse or another of Qur'an that is talking about some new fact that science has not yet discovered. It is only (as always) after the fact that they say "see, we knew it all along."
- Zakir Naik, an Islamic scholar, claims that there is 0.0017% chance that information in Qur'an was the result of guesswork.
 Qur'an's Vision and acceptance in modern society
Qur'an holds some archaic, primitive, barbaric and/or aggressive ideas (promoting the marriage of underaged girls, capital punishment, forced marriage, anti-Semitism, violence, slavery and sexual slavery, etc.) - and even if it doesn't contain these messages, they are interpreted as such - which cannot be accepted into western post-enlightment progressive civilized society.
 Criticism of the Qur'an
In the West, criticism of the Qu'ran falls into two major categories. People who are critical of Islam (and therefore the Qu'ran) because it's the intellectual successor of all the hatred and fear once reserved for commies and people who really find little to value in religion in general. Unsurprisingly, many of the same criticisms are found in both groups.
Opponents of Islam point to verses where so-called disbelievers should eternally burn in Hell (2:12), as well as verses that say that "people who make war against Allah and his prophet" have to be killed (5:33). They will find fault with historical recitations of the Qu'ran's view on medicine and health and they will generally take up the cry of how unjustly women are treated in the
Bible Quran, how generally violent it is, and how much time is spent telling others how to live. To the rational, these are in no way dissimilar from similar consequences for disbelieving in other faiths (see hell).
Also, it's a bunch of made-up religious silliness.
 See also
- Skeptic's Annotated Qur'an
- The Qur'an in parallel translations at gutenberg.org (Abdullah Ali, Pickthall, and Shakir translations line by line)
- The Qu'ran in Parallel from USC (Abdullah Ali, Pickthall, and Shakir translations by verse)
- ↑ Similar to the New Testament if it only had direct sayings from Jesus, and not other interpretations, stories, and letters
- ↑ Although modern secular scholars disagree on how accurate the traditional accounts of the process are, and how old the actual written text itself is, the idea that the whole thing was kept in memory for decades isn't as far-fetched as it sounds; people of the period were well accustomed to memorising long texts, often since they were illiterate to begin with.
- ↑ Sinking to Dead Sea levels by Sam Shamoun & Jochen Katz
- ↑ Quran & Science
- ↑ long convoluted explanation of the verb "swimming" and how it relates to modern science
- ↑ Where is the Qu'ran here?
- ↑ The Secular Web: The Koran Predicted the Speed of Light? Not Really.
- ↑ Yes, this does look like something a 7 year old child would notice. But it's "science".
- ↑ Ah, isn't that special
- ↑ I'm Healthy, cause of the Qu'ran!
- ↑ It is worth noting that the Qu'ran and Islam have provided accurate references to some scientific and medical understanding and discovery. link is an example of the history of the understanding of the cardiovascular system in Islam with Qu'ranic references.
- ↑ Evidently, would probably discover them well before, if it wasn't for Catholic science-hating.
- ↑ One supposed that creationism would be this type of "science", but it is extremely unlikely that it will ever be scientifically proven).
- ↑ God forbid anyone actually publish something academic about the history of Islam and medicine