By Anouar Majid
Do we really know what the Koran says? Most Muslims, especially Arabic-speaking ones, would probably say that they do. Religious leaders, the imams and muftis, as well as memorizers of the holy book, are, in fact, authorities in explaining its inner meaning and vocabulary. Most see it as God’s final word and revelation preserved in a heavenly tablet (lawh mahfudh
). Only those who are purified are allowed to touch it. Because the Koran was revealed and written in Arabic, a good knowledge of Arabic and of the Meccan environment are crucial to grasping its words and meanings, especially since many of our understanding of the Koran’s verses (ayat
) and chapters (suras
) are not part of the Koranic text itself and were grafted onto it much later, often in the 9th century.