Day 11: The Qur’an, Dissected

Another weekend, another light post.

The Qur’an

Al-Qur’an means “the recitation”. Apt, considering it was dictated to Prophet Muhammad in the cave on Mt. Hira (See Previous Post, Day 7).

It is read from left to right.

The Qur’an has 114 Suwar (singular = Surah) or chapters. The first being Al-Fatiha, “The Opening” which is recited with each portion of prayer.

Each surah has several verses, or ayat (singular = ayah) of varying lengths. The longest surah with 286 ayat and second in the Qur’an is Al-Baqara (“The Calf”). The shortest with 3 ayat is the 108th, Al-Kawthar, “Abundance”.

These chapters are divided into 30 parts, or 30 juz, to make the reading process easier. With lengthy suwar, certain breaks are necessary.


During prayer, the Qur’an is recited only in Arabic (much like how Christian services were previously only performed in Latin) to keep the original meanings intact. Because the prayers are recited in Arabic, when praying as a group or individually, Muslims generally start learning to read Arabic at a young age and eventually move on to memorizing the suwar.

Most people are first taught Al-Fatiha. Then, start memorizing the last suwar because they are the shortest.

Here is a video of Surah Al-Fatiha being recited:

In other news, it’s our Friday Night Class’s turn to take iftar to masjid tonight! We’re doing Chinese food (there’s a halaal Chinese place nearby) and ice cream for dessert. =]


4 thoughts on “Day 11: The Qur’an, Dissected

  1. Translations of the Quran are considered “Tafsir” or exegesis. The one I like is by Yusuf Ali and comes with notes that puts the verses in historical and spiritual context. There are many tafsir (exegesis)—some of the classical tafsir are in Arabic—some more modern ones are in English. Another tafsir in english is by M. Asad—I think it is on the internet.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this link. As I sit listening to it, it reminds me so much of the chanting in Orthodox Jewish synagogues.Really lovely.

    Are there translations of the qur’an. and do you have a favorite?

    • In the Qur’an it actually states that there aren’t supposed to be translations (to preserve it). My aunt did, however, give me an English translation a few years ago. But, I mostly stick with the Arabic.

      • {Nods}. Actually I dislike reading verses of any kind in translation because they lose so much. Interestingly, I wrote a sci fi novel where I based the alien culture loosely on a combination of American Indian and Arabic values, and my aliens don’t do translations of their books, either.

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