The Koran was derived from the Torah

The Koran is the holy book of the Muslim or Mohammedan religious community; in him is the doctrine of the Islam laid down. It is to be understood as the actual 'Word of God' (Allah), which was revealed to the prophet and founder of the religion Mohammed (approx. 570-632) during a period of 23 years by the Archangel Gabriel. The Quran in its entirety consists of 108 sections or Suras (Arabic sura: 'the majesty that overwhelms people'), which are arranged according to the principle of decreasing size, from about 30 pages (2nd sura) to three or four lines in the last suras. The sections of the Quran are designed for oral use that is repeated recitation is a central element of Muslim worship.

The Koran was only written and edited after Muhammad's unexpected death, above all by its long-time scribe Said Ibn Tabit (around 650). Linguistically, it is about the strongly rhetorical re-coinage of literary Arabic on an oral basis (the Koran thus has a similar function for Arabic culture, language and literary history as the national-language Bible has for many European cultures).

Similar to the Torah or the Old Testament, the Koran is a mixed text that combines historical tradition, sagas and legends, prayers, appeals and admonitions to faith with legal and cultic regulations for different areas of life. In contrast to the Torah and the Bible - as I said - Mohammed is not called author of the text, but only as Herald understood the word of God. This is reflected in the often repeated binomial belief: "Allah is one God and Muhammad is his prophet". In the historical parts there are overlaps with Judaism and early Christianity (forefathers Noah, Moses, Abraham, cf. the story of Joseph in Sura 12, or the birth of the 'Prophet' Jesus in Sura 3). Mohammed came into contact with these traditions on extensive caravan journeys.

The beliefs of the Koran are centered around or derived from an Islamic monotheosism, which Mohammed viewed as a strict renewal of the Judaic or early Christian belief. This central belief is expressed, among other things, in sura 112: "Say: God is one, / An eternally pure one / Has not shown and no one has begotten him, / And there is no one who is equal to him."

The Koran claims absolute validity not only for religious orientation, but also for the secular lifestyle of all Muslims. It is the book of "guidance" (huda) for all areas of life (not just for legal questions in the narrower sense). For this reason, it is supplemented by non-Quranic traditions on the life and teaching of the Prophet (hadith 'communication') as well as by a customary religious law (sunna 'tradition'), which was codified as an independent legal system (sharia) up to the 10th century. Doubts or criticism of the word of Allah are unthinkable and may be severely sanctioned (as was the case a few years ago in the case of the novelist Salman Rushdie).

The downside of the absolute validity of the Koran in Islam is its difficult intercultural reception. In Christian Europe it remains a "misunderstood book" for a long time. Against the background of long-term hostility between Christian and Islamic religions and states (e.g. the "Turkish wars" up to the 17th century), the regulation of the holy war against the infidels (jihad) in particular must cause offense. But the peculiarity of the text also makes it difficult for non-Islamic readers to find their way into the religious content and the undeniable linguistic beauty of the Koran. Goethe's ambivalent personal assessment is characteristic: "And so the Koran repeats itself sura after sura. Faith and unbelief are divided into upper and lower; heaven and hell are intended for those who confess and deny Religion, amplifications of all kinds, limitless tautologies and repetitions form the body of this sacred book, which, as often as we go through it, disgusts us anew, but then attracts, astonishes and ultimately desires admiration. " (1819)

© JZ


  • The Koran, trans. v. M. Henning, introduction and remarks by A. Schimmel, Stuttgart 1991 and others.

Secondary literature

  • H. Bobzin: The Koran. An introduction, Munich 1999.
  • M. Cook: The Koran. A brief introduction, Stuttgart 2002.
  • H. Zirker: The Koran. Approaches and readings, Darmstadt 1999.