Video: The Qur’an 101 – A Brief Introduction to the Holy Quran – Faraz Rabbani

The Qur’an 101 – A Brief Introduction to the Holy Quran – Faraz Rabbani of SeekersGuidance from Faraz Rabbani on Vimeo.

The talk was supposed to be delivered in Gainesville, FL, at the University of Florida.

A short (30 minute) presentation by Faraz Rabbani on the reality of the Qur’an; what is the significance of it being Divine Speech; its purpose; and the reality of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) as the “Living Qur’an.” Book recommendations are also given for translation of the Qur’an; introductory books on the Qur’an; and introductions to Islam and Islamic beliefs.

The Significance of Eid – Faraz Rabbani





Islam has two major holidays, Eid al-Fitr (Post-Fasting Festival) and Eid al-Adha. The word Eid itself is an Arabic word, whose root connotation is “that which comes back, time after time, and rejoicing.” Its particular usage in Islam, for the two major holidays, is because these two days are meant to be days of rejoicing. [1]


The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “These are days of eating, drinking, and remembrance of God.” [Reported by Bukhari in his Sahih, an authoritative collection of the sayings of the Prophet.]


In this same spirit, the Qur’an mentions that, “Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast (eid) for us, for the first of us and for the last of us and a sign from You. Give us sustenance, for You are the Best of Sustainers.'” (Qur’an, 5: 114)


Eid al-Fitr celebrates the completion of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast and increase their spiritual devotions, and is meant to be a recognition the material and spiritual favors of God to His creation.


On this day, Muslims all over the world thank God for the gift of fasting, in which they avoided food, drink and intercourse from dawn to dusk, out of obedience and servitude. The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith, seeking its reward, shall have all their past sins forgiven.” [Also reported by Bukhari in his Sahih, and others]


The many lessons in Ramadan are acted upon on this day of festivity, in order that they not be forgotten:


1. Devoting oneself to God: Muslims start the day by showering after dawn on Eid day, then go to the short Eid prayer and sermon that takes place early in the morning.


2. Recognizing one”s blessings and thanking God for them: Muslims are encouraged to wear their best clothes, give gifts (especially to children) and celebrate with family, friends, and neighbors.


3. Remembering the plight of the poor and giving in charity: On Eid day, it is especially recommended to give in charity, the best time of which is before going to the mosque or prayer hall in the morning.


It is a day in which Muslims seek to join between worldly and spiritual celebration, for it is said, “True rejoicing is not (merely) in wearing new clothes, but in becoming true in one”s devotion to God.”


As a result, it is encouraged for Muslims to fast another six days after Eid during the month of Shawwal, in order to keep alive the lessons learned during the month of Ramadan, and to become of those devoted to God. It is because of this that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whoever fasts of Ramadan then fasts six days in the month of Shawwal shall have the reward of having fasted the whole year.” (Sahih Muslim)


The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “For every people there is a feast and this is our feast.” [Reported by Bukhari in his Sahih]



The Fiqh of Eid – Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali (SeekersGuidance Blog)



Faraz Rabbani,

 Support the spread of Islamic knowledge:


[1] Raghib al-Isfahani, Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur”an, 594 (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1997). This is a classic work on the vocabulary of the Qur”an.

MMVIII © Faraz Rabbani and SunniPath.

The Path of Taqwa – Faraz Rabbani – Qurba Retreat 2010 (Video, Lecture)

The Path of Taqwa – Faraz Rabbani – Qurba Retreat 2010

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A talk delivered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani at the Qurba Retreat “Detour Ahead: Staying on the Prophetic Path, August 2010. Shaykh Faraz highlights the Qur’anic call to mindfulness (taqwa); the virtues of taqwa; its three levels; and how mindfulness is manifest in faith, outward actions, the actions of the heart, and also in one’s thinking.


See: The Path of Taqwa – Faraz Rabbani – Qurba Retreat 2010 from Qurba on Vimeo

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Shaykh Idris Watts “Praise Him!” // June 2010 // Radical Middle Way

Hamd – praise – is the cornerstone of our faith. We praise God for the gift of life, for guidance and for the opportunity to do good and spread mercy. Every breath we take and every step we make should be an occasion for joy and praise. Nobody praised God better than the most praiseworthy of human beings – the Prophet Muhammad. His life was all about praise – praise expressed through the best of character, the most generous of hearts, the way of service. In him we have a model of praise that we can follow. Our demonstrations must not only call attention to injustice and inequity, but we must at the same time demonstrate the example through which injustice can be remedied, inequity can be vanquished and mercy can be brought into the lives of the many. Shaykh Idris Watts’s has a simple message for us all: Praise Him by following the one who praised Him best!

Placing the Qur’an on the Floor: Not Permissible

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: Regarding the Quran, are there any explicit sayings from the Quran itself, hadith, or scholars regarding placing it on the floor or low places?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

There are many general proofs for the impermissibility of placing the Qur’an on the floor, or treating it in any way indicative of debasement or lack of respect.

Allah Most High stated, “Whoever exalts the signs of Allah, that is indeed from the piety of hearts.” [22.32] There is no doubt that the Qur’an is from among the greatest “signs” of Allah, rather His Speech to creation that serves as a guidance for all.

Tamim al-Dari narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The religion is sincere counsel. We said, ‘To whom, Oh Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘To Allah, His book, His Messengers, the Muslim leaders, and the laity.'” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi] The scholars mention that sincere counsel as it relates to the Qur’an includes having immense respect for it, to believe it is the Word of Allah, to recite ir properly, to reflect on it and its lessons, to implement its guidance, and so forth. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Imam Nawawi states that there is consensus between the scholars on the obligation of respecting the Qur’an. [Ibn Muflih, Adab al-Shari`ah] Imam Qurtubi states explicitly that one should not place the Qur’an on the ground, nor should one place other books on top of it. For more, please see Etiquette of Reading and Handling the Qur’an.


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Etiquette of Reading and Handling the Qur’an

Answered by Imam Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Qurtubi

Question: What is the etiquette of reading and handling the Qur’an?

Answer: Imam Muhammad ibn Ahmad Qurtubi says in al-Jami’ li ahkam al-Qur’an [Taken from Reliance of the Traveler]

It is the inviolability of the Qur’an:

1. not to touch the Qur’an except in the state of ritual purity in wudu, and to recite it when in a state of ritual purity;

2. to brush one’s teeth with a toothstick (siwak), remove food particles from between the them, and to freshen one’s mouth before reciting, since it is the way through which the Qur’an passes;

3. to sit up straight if not in prayer, and not lean back;

4. to dress for reciting as if intending to visit a prince, for the reciter is engaged in an intimate discourse;

5. to face the direction of prayer (qiblah) to recite;

6. to rinse the mouth out with water if one coughs up mucus or phlegm;

7. to stop reciting when one yawns, for when reciting , one is addressing one’s Lord in intimate conversation, while yawning is from the Devil;

8. when begining to recite, to take refuge from in Allah from the accursed Devil and say the Basmala, whether one has begun at the first surah or some other part one has reached;

9. once one has begun, not to interrupt one’s recital from moment to moment with human words, unless absolutely necessary;

10. to be alone when reciting it, so that no one interrupts one, forcing one to mix the words of the Qur’an with replying, for this nullifies the effectivness of having taken refuge in Allah from the Devil at the beginning;

11. to recite it leisurely and without haste, distinctly pronouncing each letter;

12. to use one’s mind and understanding in order to comprehend what is being said to one;

13. to pause at verses that promise Allah’s favour, to long for Allah Most High and ask of His bounty; and at verses that warn of His punishment to ask Him to save one from it;

14. to pause at the accounts of bygone peoples and individuals to heed and benefit from their example;

15. to find out the meanings of the Qur’an’s unusual lexical usages;

16. to give each letter its due so as to clearly and fully pronounce every word, for each letter counts as ten good deeds;

17. whenever one finishes reciting, to attest to the veracity of ones’s Lord, and that His messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) has delivered his message, and to testify to this, saying: “Our Lord, You have spoken the truth, Your messengers have delivered their tidings, and bear witness to this. O Allah, make us of those who bear witness to the truth and who act with justice”: after which one supplicates Allah with prayers.

18. not to select certain verses from each surah to recite, but rather the recite the whole surah;

19. if one puts down the Qur’an, not to leave it open;

20. not to place other books upon the Qur’an, which should always be higher than all other books, whether they are books of Sacred Knowledge or something else;

21. to place the Qur’an on one’s lap when reading; or on something in front of one, not on the floor;

22. not to wipe it from a slate with spittle, but rather wash it off with water; and if one washes it off with water, to avoid putting the water where there are unclean substances (najasa) or where people walk. Such water has its own inviolability, and there were those of the early Muslims before us who used water that washed away Qur’an to effect cures.

23. not to use sheets upon which it has been written as bookcovers, which is extremely rude, but rather to erase the Qur’an from them with water;

24. not to let a day go by without looking at least once at the pages of the Qur’an;

25. to give one’s eyes their share of looking at it, for the eyes lead to the soul (nafs), whereas there is a veil between the breast and the soul, and the Qur’an is in the breast.

26. not to trivially quote the Qur’an at the occurrence of everyday events, as by saying, for example, when someone comes, “You have come hither according to a decree, O Moses” [Qur’an 69:24],

or,  “Eat and drink heartily for what you have done aforetimes, in days gone by” [Qur’an 69:24], when food is brought out, and so forth;

27. not to recite it to songs tunes like those of the corrupt, or with the tremulous tones of Christians or the plaintiveness of monkery, all of which is misguidance;

28. when writing the Qur’an to do so in a clear, elegant hand;

29. not to recite it out aloud over another’s reciting of it, so as to spoil it for him or make him resent what he hears, making it as if it were some kind of competition;

30. not to recite it in marketplaces, places of clamour and frivolity, or where fools gather;

31. not to use the Qur’an as pillow, or lean upon it;

32. not to toss it when one wants to hand it to another;

33. not to miniaturize the Qur’an, mix into it what is not of it, or mingle this worldly adornment with it by embellishing or writing it with gold;

34. not to write it on the ground or on walls, as is done in some new mosques;

35. not to write an amulet with it and enter the lavatory, unless it is encased in leather, silver, or other, for then it is as if kept in the heart;

36. if one writes it and then drinks it (for cure or other purpose), one should say the Basmala at every breath and make a noble and worthy intention, for Allah only gives to one according to one’s intention;

37. and if one finishes reciting the entire Qur’an, to begin it anew, that it may not resemble something that has been abandoned.

(Taken from an excellent resource for traditional Islam)

The Oldest Reference to the Qur’an from Non-Muslim Sources

Answered by Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti

Question :The Oldest Reference to the Qur’an
from Non-Muslim Sources

Al-hamdulillah wa-l-salat wa-l-salam ‘ala Rasulillah.

Answer : A non-Muslim wrote the following: I could go to Barnes and Noble and buy one of several Qur’an. Each is generally much like the other. What is the earliest existing copy of a similar Qur’an? Did any existing Roman document refer to the Qur’an and, if so, what was the date? Did any existing Chinese document refer to the Qur’an and, if so, what was the date?
Do you have any idea, or how one would even go about looking for this? I assume that any evidence from non-Muslim sources will do.”
It was in the course of the first Abbasid century, roughly 750-850, that Christians, living under Muslim rule began to compose theological works in Syriac and Arabic to counter the religious challenges of Islam (including polemical works against the Qur’an, for instance). These texts were intended for a Christian audience, many of whom had by this time adopted the Arabic language, not only for day-to-day purposes in the new cultural milieu, but even as an ecclesiastical language. So by the end of the first Abbasid century, major writers in Arabic had appeared in the principle denominations, whose patristic and liturgical heritage had been Syriac and even Greek. The earliest known ‘Christian defender’ was the Melkite, Theodore Abu Qurrah who wrote a series of works in Arabic (as well as Syriac and translated into Greek – for the Byzantium), intended to defend the credibility of the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, and the claim that Christianity alone is the true religion.
I assume what you meant by ‘Roman documents’ are documents of the Byzantine Empire; they being the successors of the Roman Empire, since by the time of the death of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace!) from this world, the Roman Emperors who used to rule from Rome had virtually ceased to exist in the West as an empire. It goes without saying, that since the defeat of the Byzantine forces in Yarmuk from 637, there were contacts between the two sides, and that it stands to reason that the Christians in this period and place would have heard and talked about the Qur’an. The subsequent final fall of some of the most important capitals of Byzantium also opened up contacts between Christians and Muslims. Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem were the three major principalities of Byzantium, in which Christian Patriarchs were respectively based. One of them, in Jerusalem, was Patriarch Sophronicus, a major Orthodox theologian and Christian scholar, who it was said, would only surrender to the caliph (and it was then, the only time that Caliph ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him!) left Medina to grant the wishes of this famous Christian Patriarch). (Incidentally, this Greek Patriarch continued to live and work as a Christian scholar in Jerusalem and died there, alongside the new populace of Jerusalem, the Muslims.) With the fall of the capital Edessa and the headquarters of the Emperor Heraclius, the Emperor finally abandoned Syria and Egypt. As any Byzantinists today would be able to confirm from the primary sources of this period, it was during this period that we find the earliest references to the Qur’an in Byzantine Greek and Syriac sources, both in government as well as scholarly documents (albeit in scholarly documents, the motives like that with Theodore, above, are mostly concerned with polemics against the Muslim Holy Book). One of the earliest documents which is still extant, is the Chronicle by the Christian ecclesiastical scholar, Eutychius of Alexandria.
Unless you mean the ‘Roman document’ to be Latin, then, it was not until the High Middle Ages that we find, for example, the first translation of the Qur’an into Latin. (It is still not known today, on account of insufficient primary source material, whether the Byzantinists had attempted to translate the Qur’an; it could well have been attempted and might even have succeeded at doing so, but as of yet, no known manuscript has survived.) In 1143, the first Latin translation (in fact, a paraphrase, really) of the Qur’an was done by Robert of Ketton (fl. 1136-57) in 1143; exactly four centuries later, this very translation (which included a refutation) of the Qur’an was printed in Basel at the instigation of Martin Luther. (From there came the translations of the Qur’an into the vernacular European languages: first in Italian, then German, then Dutch, and only then in English by George Sale in 1734, which was, a translation that is very different from Ketton’s – free from polemical motives and was more accurate, textually). There was another early Latin translation of the Qur’an, and it was produced by Mark of Toledo (fl. 1193-1216) in 1211; although more literal than Ketton’s, it was much less widely known. Both of these medieval ‘translations’ were produced at the instigation of the various archbishops (including Peter the Venerable) who thought it would be useful to Latin Christians attempting to convert Muslims as part of the mobilization of arms and opinion, following the Christian Reconquest of Muslim Spain.
As for Chinese documents referring to the Qur’an, I find myself at a loss, being unfamiliar with primary sources in medieval Chinese. However, from scholarly sources, we understand that in pre-Islamic times there were already established trade routes and contacts between the Chinese and the Persians. It stands to reason, therefore, that after the defeat of the Persian Empire, these links and contacts were still kept; hence knowledge about the Qur’an must have come through these early contacts. This is especially likely, given the Muslims’ own fascination with China (it being the land of the unknown and mysterious, into which only the boldest might venture) as the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace!) himself said to his followers: “Seek knowledge even as far as China!” That is why it is not surprising that we have numerous accurate accounts (on the Arabic side that I am familiar with, such as from historians like al-Mas’udi and al-Tabari) of the relations between the Islamic world and China. I’m afraid the best or closest to Chinese primary source that I could rely on is the 19th century sinologist, Gabriel Dev�ria, who collated the traditions and stories of the early Muslim contacts with China, from Chinese sources. It is said, that in these sources, Islam (and knowledge of the Qur’an) is brought to China by land, by Muslim envoys. Furthermore, it is also said that as a result of the dream of the Emperor Taizong (d. 649), an exchange of around 3000 Muslim and Chinese soldiers was carried out. As far as I know, the earliest ‘translation’ of the Qur’an into Chinese is dated around 1800; a manuscript in SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London) confirms this. However, as Muslim scholars are very familiar with the following principle of: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” the fact that so far, another translation has not been found should not preclude the existence of an even earlier translation. After all, Muslims are well aware of the fact that during the middle ages, the Qur’an has been ‘translated’ into most of the languages of Asia (such as Sindi), Africa (such as Berber), and Europe. In fact, the earliest ‘translation’ of the Qur’an is said to be the one in Persian, produced by the companion of the Prophet, Salman al-Farisi (may Allah be pleased with him!) during the time of Khulafa’ al-Rashidin – the first four Caliphs, after the death of the Prophet from this world; but none of these are known to survive today.
Wallahu wa-rasulu a’lam bi-s-sawab!
May this be of help.
Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti ©
14 Rabi’ I 1424
16 V 2003
Select Bibliography:
On primary sources from Byzantium, see:
Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai [Constatinople in the Early Eighth Century]. Edited by Averil Cameron and Judith Herrin. Leiden: Brill, 1984. [Greek; passim, esp. in reference to Muslims or ‘Saracens’].
Chronicon Anonymum ad Annum Christi 1234 pertinens. Edited by J. B. Chabot. Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores Syri, no. 36. Paris: Gabalda, 1920. [Syriac; p. 255 on the meeting of ‘Umar and Sophronicus].
On Eutychius’ Chronicle (with a German translation), see:
Breydy, M. Das Annalenwerk des Eutychios von Alexandrien. Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, nos. 471-472, vols. 44-45. Louvain: Peeters, 1985.
On Theodore Abu Qurrah, see:
Sidney H. Griffith. “Muslim and Church Councils: the Apology of Theodore Abu Qurrah.” Studia Patristica 25 (1993): 270-299.
On the first known translation of the Qur’an into a Western language, i.e., that of Robert of Ketton’s, see:
Burman, Thomas E. “Tafsir and Translation: Traditional Arabic Qur’an Exegesis and the Latin Qur’ans of Robert of Ketton and Mark of Toledo.” Speculum 73 (1998): 703-732.
On Pre-Islamic Middle East with China connections, see:
Watson, W. “Iran and China.” In The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. 3. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1968-1991.
On early Sino-Muslim contacts, see:
Chen Da-sheng. Islamic Inscriptions in Quanzhou [Zaytun]. Translated by Chen En-ming and Zhrng De-chao. Ningxia, 1984. [Translation of Fujian sheng Quanzhou hai wai jiao tong shi bo wu guan].
Dev�ria, Gabriel. Origine de l’Islamisme en Chine. Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1895.
Serjeant, R. B. “Yemenis in Mediaeval Quanzhou [Canton].” New Arabian Studies 1 (1993): 231-234.