History and Sources

What is the principal Muslim sacred text?

In about the year 610, Muhammad began to deliver orally the messages he believed were of divine origin. His “recitation” (qur’an) of the revelation was initially held in memory by his followers, and, according to traditional accounts, was not produced in full written form until some years after Muhammad’s death in 632. What began as “an Arabic recitation” retained that name even after it was written down, and the resulting book is still known as “The Recitation” or Qur’an.

A page from the Qur’an, eighth-ninth century, Middle East. The Saint Louis Art Museum.


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