The word Qur’an in Arabic means “Reading.” Or, maybe, even something to be read.
Qur’an is the name given to the book that claims that it is from God Almighty. It is the name that this book Qur’an gives to itself, which it has done starting out 1400 years ago on this earth.
Before that, the Qur’an was, and remains forever, the immortal and immutable word and speech of God from eternity to eternity.
And the Qur’an does so, calls itself Qur’an I mean, on at least 50 separate occasions – actually 67 times by my quick count – which to me is a most extraordinary thing.
If you wish to call this fact a miracle, live in your hands, you will be absolutely right in doing that.
You should not hesitate to call this aspect of the Qur’an a miracle, all by itself. For, I am not aware of any other book of this kind in existence that sets about giving itself a specific name of its own choosing.
I mean any name.
And now consider this specific name Al Qur’an – “The Reading.” What exactly does that mean?
And, beyond that, what possible relevance or relationship could there be between a barren desert like Arabia; at a time like the beginning of the Seventh Century; and a book that proceeds to anoint itself, in a very self-conscious and deliberate manner, and a very persistent one at that, “The Reading” or the Qur’an?
And, furthermore, that book happens to come out of the mouth of an illiterate man, born and raised among an illiterate people?
That means this confluence of events is as unlikely as anything that can ever happen in this world: an illiterate man; among an illiterate people; in an illiterate place; during generally illiterate times; and in the midst of an illiterate culture!
Mix all of these improbable happenings together and out comes a book that calls itself The Qur’an or “The Reading”?
What are the chances of that happening in a normal world? What are the odds?
What is the likelihood or probability, as anyone would say?
Anyone looking at this phenomenon dispassionately would shake their head and say: Anything but that.
That is, anything but “Qur’an”!
That means it simply does not make sense that a book of this kind should ever be called “Qur’an.”
And that it should be called that so many times, over and over, right in the body of text itself.
And that it should be the book itself – and not any of its admirers or scribes or publishers or followers or preachers – that should be giving that book this extraordinary name.
But, as I said before, the Qur’an does so over and over and over. It calls itself Qur’an no less than 67 times or so.
So, is this reason enough for a non-Muslim to pick up a copy of the Qur’an and read it?
In my view it is.
Unless, of course, that non-Muslim can vouch for the fact that, in his or her knowledge, this fact is a common phenomenon.
That is, that non-Muslim happens to know for a fact any number of similar books that actually refer to themselves with an improbable title of this kind. And then go on to reinforce that fact over and over dozens of times in the body and course of their own texts.
Then maybe that non-Muslim can claim this thing to be a common occurrence and dismiss the Qur’an as nothing but commonplace. But such is not likely to be the case.
As the Qur’an vouches in its own words: Fa-in lam taf’aloo, wa lan taf’aloo.
“And you shall never be able to do it.”