The word Qur’an is defined as recitation. The Qur’an is the inspired Word of God, spoken in the seventh century through the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). In his thirties, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) began to have visions in his sleep. Following the visions, he sought solitude going to Mt. Hira, a mountain just outside Mecca, for spiritual retreats. Taking provisions with him, he retired to a cave, to be alone, pray and meditate. At forty years old, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was visited by an Angel, who ordered him to: “Recite!” Mohammad (PBUH) said: “I am not a reciter.”
The Angel then, embraced him so tightly as to stretch his limits of endurance. This sequence repeated twice, and on the third time when the Angel released him, he said
Created the human out a clot of blood; (2)
Proclaim! And your Lord is Most Bountiful, (3)
He Who taught you knowledge of the inner clear book, (4)
Taught you that which you knew not (5)
(The Night of Power, 96 : 1-5)
Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) repeated after the Angel, and in fear fled down the mountain. Halfway down the mountain, he heard a voice speaking:
“O Mohammad, you are the Messenger of God, and I am Gabriel.”
The Prophet (PBUH) stood, looking upward, he saw the Angel of God everywhere, to the farthest reaches of the horizon.
This message was soon followed by another message, spoken directly and personally to Mohammad (PBUH).
By the knowledge of the inner, clear book
And by its expansion into form and substance, (1)
You are not, by the grace of your Lord, mad or possessed, (2)
Nay, verily for you is a Reward unfailing; (3)
And you possess and exalted standard of character.(4)
(Al-Qalam, 68 : 1-4)
For a period of time there were no messages, yet they resumed again, to continue intermittently over the rest of the Prophet’s (PBUH) lifetime of about 25 years.
Initially, the messages sounded like reverberating bells, which gradually over time condensed into a single voice. When receiving revelation, Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) state would visibly change. The words Mohammad (PBUH) received were memorized by his followers and recorded on bones, bark, leaves, and scraps of parchment. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) considered the Qur’an to be the only miracle God worked through him, calling it, God’s “standing miracle.”