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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Koran

KORAN, the Mohammedan scriptures, which professedly consist of revelations made by Allah (God) to Mohammed, the medium of communication being the angel Gabriel. When a Mussulman quotes from them, the formula he uses is not “Mohammed says,” but “God says.” He calls the book the Book of God, and the Word of God, or the Book. Mohammed wrote nothing himself, yet his followers noted down his utterances on leather, palm leaves, stones, and even the shoulder blades of sheep. His companions also preserved much by oral recitation.

The Koran is smaller than the Bible. It is divided into 114 suras, or chapters, arranged achronically. The chapters are named as well as numbered; thus, ch. ii. is denominated “the Cow”; ch. v., “the Table”; lxxxvi., “the Night Star.” The work consists of moral, religious, civil, and political teachings, commingled with promises, threatenings, etc., to be fulfilled in the future world; with Biblical narratives, Arabic and Christian traditions, etc. Later revelations sometimes revoked or essentially modified those which had gone before. The Caliph Abu Beker, or Bacr, directed Zeid ibn Thorbit to collect the scattered utterances of the Koran. Afterward there was a revision by the Caliph Othman. It has been translated into most European languages.