It is considered that surahs (chapters) of the Quran (114 surahs) were conveyed to Prophet Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel or directly by Allah during 23 years – since 610 until 632 (the year of Muhammad’s death). Each surah consists of three or more ayahs (verses).
The longest surah is known as “Al-Baqarah: The Cow” and consists of 286 ayahs. There are 10,640 ayahs in the Quran (however, some ayahs are marked by two or even three serial numbers). According to chronology, all surahs are distributed between two periods: the Meccan Period (90 surahs) and the Medinan Period (24 surahs). The Medina Period has started in 622, just in that year Muhammad together with his followers emigrated to Medina, where he established the caliphate. His emigration became known as the Hegira (Arabic hijrah) and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. When Muhammad was alive, he did not agree to write down surahs and ayahs and to compile them in a single book. He himself and his companions have recited surahs and ayahs, and he required the same from others.
There were special reciters of the Quran – Karies. Shortly after the Prophet’s death, the first caliph Abu Bakr (Islamic political leader) who was alarmed by the fact that the number of reciters of the Quran was decreasing due to numerous wars gave instructions to Abu Zaid, the secretary and assistant of Muhammad, to collect and write down the texts of surahs and ayahs. In such a way, the first variant of the Quran (the term Quran means “recitation”) that is known as “the Pages of Abu Bakr” has appeared (surahs and ayahs were written down on camels’ skins, papyrus or simply on flat stones). Then compiling the texts was continued. According to instructions of the second caliph Hazrat Umar, the group of experts under the direction of Abu Zaid has rewritten the texts of surahs and ayahs in the form of separate pages, and in a such form was put on the headstone in the sepulcher of the Prophet by the wife of Muhammad personally (she was the daughter of Uthman).
Muslims generally believe that the authorized version of the Quran in the form of a book derives its text and the number and order of the chapters from the work of a commission appointed by the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, during the second half of his reign, roughly 20 years after Muhammad’s death. 4 (or 7) copies of the Quran were made and sent to different ends of the Caliphate in order to prevent disputes and alternative versions in the process of reciting surahs and ayahs. At the same time, the Caliph gave instructions to annihilate or incinerate all other written texts of surahs and ayahs including “the Pages of Abu Bakr”. During the last 14 centuries, a substance of surahs and ayahs were not corrected and edited anymore, and came to our time without changes. Surahs in the Quran are placed based on their volume – the longest surahs were arranged in the beginning of the book and further in descending order according to the number of ayahs rather than according to their chronology and a place of origin.
There is a remarkable fact. In surahs and ayahs devoted to a biography of known and unknown prophets, Muhammad is the last among them, it is emphasized that all prophets are messengers of Allah and each of them is a link of the single chain. He granted the holy books (to Moses – the Old Testament, to Jesus Christ – the New Testament, and to Muhammad – the Quran) containing words of God. Each of them as selected by Allah as His messenger from amongst any nation (tribe, clan) in order to bring his own people the word of God and to direct them towards the way of the truth.
The Quran became not only the holy book for believers but also the
major book of an incipient state – caliphate. Questions concerning the property naturally arise in any human society. A thought that the heavens and the earth and all between them or on them are the property of Allah and He created them is emphasized in the Quran (more exact in 132 ayahs of 52 surahs out of 114, and in some surahs it is repeated in three, four, and more ayahs). An issue of the ownership of land is solved in this context. Ayah 7:128 (7 is a serial number of the surah, and 128 is a serial number of the ayah in this surah) said about the following: “7:128 And Moses said unto his people: Seek help in Allah and endure. Lo! the earth is Allah’s. He giveth it for an inheritance to whom He will…” Non-arable and unused land is called as “dead earth” in the Quran. A man does not receive the ownership of land for no particular reason, he should make it arable and for this purpose, he irrigates his land and equips with necessary facilities. Only after these actions, land can be his ownership. Islamic legal experts (faqihs) later studied such interrelated chains of legal situations, and laws and norms of the Shariah (the Islamic lawmaking) were formulated on this base. In such a way, the special science of the law – usul al fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) has emerged.
The matters concerning the waters and water use are described in the Quran from other positions. The provision that all living things were created on the Earth thanks to water was mentioned already in the Bible (the Old Testament) and further developed in the Quran. “Water for all and for general welfare” – this basic idea is set forth in a number of ayahs.
21:30 “Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe?”
56:68, 69, 70 ”Have ye observed the water which ye drink ? Is it ye who shed it from the raincloud, or are We the Shedder? If We willed We verily could make it bitter. Why then, give ye not thanks?” Since the transition of the earth from the category “dead” into the category “arable” is caused by irrigation and other measures (for example, soil protection), the matters related to the earth and waters, as a rule, are considered as interrelated.
2:164 “Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sendeth down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and (in) the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth: are signs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) for people who have sense.”
In other words, a man possessing reason should understand and rates highly all things that were created and are being done by Allah including reclaiming “dead earth” by the precipitation in the form of rain, snow etc. All these things are made for the welfare of a human being, for all people without their differentiation.
14:32 “Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth, and causeth water to descend from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you, and maketh the ships to be of service unto you, that they may run upon the sea at His command, and hath made of service unto you the rivers, (33) And maketh the sun and the moon, constant in their courses, to be of service unto you, and hath made of service unto you the night and the day. (34) And He giveth you of all ye ask of Him, and if ye would count the bounty of Allah ye cannot reckon it. Lo! man is verily a wrong-doer, an ingrate.”
A meaning of this ayah, especially a reproach or even the accusation addressed to a man, becomes understandable in our enlightened century, when a man having enough knowledge and experience, demonstrates his behavior with respect to nature, especially to water resources, as unwise and wasteful, and sometimes “inhuman.”
The next ayah (6:142) is peculiar and contains direct directions: “He it is Who produceth gardens trellised and untrellised, and the datepalm, and crops of divers flavour, and the olive and the pomegranate, like and unlike. Eat ye of the fruit thereof when it fruiteth, and pay the due thereof upon the harvest day, and be not prodigal. Lo! Allah loveth not the prodigals.”
We have quoted some ayahs that concern only such subjects as land, water, and land use. It is traditionally reckoned that the civil status of a person – the family, marriage, divorce, inheritance and other interpersonal attitudes, and moral and ethic norms and behavioral rules of Muslims in their day-to-day life, in private life, and with respect to umma (Muslim community) and the State is mainly considered together with religious dogmas, rites etc.
As it was set forth in some ayahs (for example, 3:187), the Quran is, first of all, the appeal to go along the righteous way stated by Allah, clarifications how to reach this way and how to go along this way, the warning to people who select a wrong way about expected “the doom of Fire” at the Judgment Day… At the same time and along with this, a certain base was fixed using some “bricks” presented with laws, judgments, moral and ethic norms, behavioral rules, which afterwards become transformed to the written Shariah laws. When Islam has formed as the self-dependent religion, the “building” of belief as a whole was built on this foundation. Two out of numerous “bricks” that are the base for belief represent the attitude of Islam to fundamental issues of any developing society – to water and land.
– The Earth is the property of Allah, He gives it to the worthy out of His slaves for use;
– The water is the sacred gift of Allah to all living things and, first of all, to a man; water is for the common good, and people have to use water wisely and justly.
These fundamental ideas set forth in many surahs and ayahs of the Quran later were fixed in Hadiths and the Shariah laws.
Chapter of book: Water & Ethics (Thoughts of Professional and Citizen)
Author: Abrar Kadirov