The Quran: Science and miracles in a book
My father was from India where he grew up in a small village memorizing the Quran in its original Arabic language, taught to him in the same one-room schoolhouse as generations in his village had done for hundreds of years.
In the early1960s, when I was a child growing up in Seattle, my father invited a respected Arabic linguist from the University of Washington to record the Quran on his new audio reel-to-reel tape recorder, and for hours each day my sister and I would listen and repeat every line as we, too, worked to memorize the beautiful holy Quran in Arabic.
Muslims believe in the revelations found in the holy books of all the Abrahamic religions, and we believe that all Scripture (Torah, Gospel and Book of Psalms) must all be honored even though they were changed. But it is the Quran in Arabic that we hold most dear, revering it as the authentic and direct unchanged word of God to all mankind.
God sent his words through the Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad who, though illiterate at the time, miraculously memorized and taught them to his followers. And for more than 1,400 years since that time, Muslims have prided themselves on memorizing the entire Quran in the rhythmic beauty of Arabic, just as God revealed it.
At a very young age, my parents taught me about the sacredness of the Quran, and any disrespect or desecration of it is abhorrent to me.
My mother, as an act of love, would wrap our Qurans in a soft, colorful pure-cotton cloth. The Quran was never to be written in or to touch the floor and we always kept ours on the highest shelf in our house.
The Quran must never be interpreted and can only be taught in Arabic. Any linguist will tell you that Arabic is a complex language and any Arab-speaking person will tell you that the Quran is infinitely more rhythmic and appealing than any poetry ever written.
It is beyond human power to describe how this is so; one must literally hear the words and phrases recited to understand this subtle miracle of the Quran, its style and arrangement a thing of beauty to listeners everywhere, from learned scholars to people in rustic villages.
Recent scientific discoveries were foretold in the text of the Quran written more than 1,400 years ago.
With the advancement in technology Muslims have come to learn remarkable things: The Quran contains many verses that accurately foretell natural phenomena in such fields as embryology, meteorology, astronomy, geology and oceanography.
From the gender of plants and cross-pollination to the embryonic stages; how God fashioned both male and female from a drop of sperm, to a clot of blood, a fetus clings and attaches itself to uterine wall and life begins; amazingly this is all in the Quran.
I know the Quran was never meant to be a "science textbook." Clearly, whether highlighting the wonders of nature or the lessons of history, its verses direct us to reflect on the glory of God, though it is interesting that no other ancient book or Scripture is accurate in this way.
For Muslims, it’s one of the proofs that make the Quran a credible "living revelation" for a modern age, allowing it to reveal itself afresh with passing time.
Years ago, when my oldest daughter was 4, I started teaching her the importance of respecting and memorizing the Quran in Arabic. Sitting in her bed at night she would repeat after me the verses of the short chapters, amazing in her ability (far better than mine at that age) to capture the correct pronunciation.
To help her build her confidence, I would often ask her to recite passages in front of relatives and guests. She has been selected to open a major gathering of our community by reciting the opening passage of the Quran on stage, events that literally brought tears to my eyes.
The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, said that the parents of a child who memorizes the whole Quran will be given Crowns of Light on the Day of Judgment, and what parent wouldn’t want that?
For me and for more than 1 billion Muslims around the world, the holy Quran is an owner’s manual for the human being. Whoever wonders about the purpose of life and one’s own existence will find it to be a guide on par to excellence.
For these and so many other reasons, the Quran is more than just a book to me. It is God talking to me in his last and final communication to all humanity, and as a Muslim, I must safeguard it as the Word of God, and a declaration of my faith.