Ko"ran(k"rn or k*rn"; 277), n. [Ar. qorn; with the Ar. article, Alkoran, Alcoran; = Turk. Pers. qurn, from Ar. quran, qoran, book, reading, from qr, read. See Alcoran.] The Scriptures of the Muslims, containing the professed revelations to Mohammed; -- called also Alcoran.
Koran is the sacred book of the Muslims (sometimes called
Mohammedans by non-Muslims, a term considered offensive by some Muslims). It is the most important foundation on which Islam rests and it is held in the highest veneration by all Islamic sects. When being read it must be kept on a stand elevated above the floor. No one may read it or touch it without first making a legal ablution. It is written in the Arabic language, and its style is considered a model. The substance of the Koran is held to be uncreated and eternal. Mohammed was merely the person to whom the work was revealed. At first the Koran was not written, but entirely committed to memory. But when a great many of the best Koran reciters had been killed in battle, Omar suggested to Abu-Bekr (the successor of Mohammed) that it should be written down. Abu-Bekr accordingly commanded Zeid, an amanuensis of the prophet, to commit it to writing. This was the authorized text until 23 years after the death of the prophet. A number of variant readings had, however, crept into use. By order of the calif Osman in the year 30 of the Hejira, Zeid and three assistants made a careful revision which was adopted as the standard, and all the other copies were ordered to be burned. The Koran consists of 114 suras or divisions. These are not numbered, but each one has a separate name. They are not arranged in historical order. These suras purport to be the addresses delivered by Mohammed during his career at Mecca and Medina. As a general rule the shorter suras, which contain the theology of Islam, belong to the Meccan period; while the longer ones, relating to social duties and relationships, to Medina. The Koran is largely drawn from Jewish and Christian sources, the former prevailing. Moses and Jesus are reckoned among the prophets. The biblical narratives are interwoven with rabbinical legends. The customs of the Jews are made to conform to those of the Arabians. Islamic theology consists in the study of the Koran and its commentaries. A very fine collection of Korans, including one in Cufic (the old Arabic character), is to be found in the Khedival Library at Cairo, Egypt.
[Century Dict. 1906]
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