Koran - Qur'an

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The Qur'an is the holy book of Islam. It contains the Word of Allah (God) revealed by the archangel ﺟﺒﺮﻳﻞ, (Jibrīl) or ﺟﺒﺮﺍﺋﻴﻞ (Jibra'īl), equivalent of the Judaeo-Christian Gabriel ( גּבריאל (Gavriel) in Hebrew, and Γαβριήλ (Gabriel) in Greek), to the prophet Muhammad, recited by him to his followers, and written down by them during the reign of Uthman, the third Caliph.

The word is Arabic: ﺍﻟﻘﺮﺁﻥ ('[al- 'the'] + qur'an 'recitation''). (The ' in qur'an represents a glottal stop, a sound for which there is no English letter. In Arabic the glottal stop is usually represented by the sign ﺀ (hamza), but before a long 'a' it is represented by the sign ~ above the letter alif (ﺍ) as in ﺍﻟﻘﺮﺁﻥ (alqur'an).) Because there are many difficulties in transliterating from the Arabic to the Roman alphabets, there have been several different forms of writing the name of the book in English, all making some attempt to render the original sound phonetically.

  • From the fourteenth century, it was usually alcoran, sometimes in one of the alternative spellings of that period when spelling was not regularized: alkaron, alkaroun, alcharon; alchoran(e), alcorane, alcaron, alcheron, alcoran and alkoran.
  • From the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, the most usual form has been Koran, sometimes written coren, currawn, coran or kuran.
  • Nowadays, the preference in academic writing is for the form which most closely approaches the original Arabic, qur'an. This is the form that AWE advises our readers to use.
See also Muhammad for a related and similar difficulty with spelling in English.