Qur'an (Origin)The Qur'an - Besides founding Islam and winning its first converts, Mohammed is also responsible for producing the scriptures of the faith. The Qur'an (Arabic for both "reading" and "recitation") is the Islamic holy book, consisting of 114 chapters (known as suras). It is holy because, according to Muslims, it is God's (Allah in Arabic) word revealed to Mohammed. The revelations began with the first appearance of God's angel to Mohammed in the cave on Mt. Hira, and continued for the next 22 years, all the way up until just before his death. According to tradition, during the month of Ramadan in 610, Gabriel came to Mohammed while he was asleep and began reciting the words. He then charged the prophet with imparting them to mankind so they might know his will. Muslims regard the Qur'an as a miracle and proof of Mohammed's appointment as a prophet, particularly because he was said to be illiterate, and therefore the words must be divinely inspired. The words making up the Qur'an were not written down by Mohammed himself, but were passed on to his followers who memorized them or wrote them down. After his death, so that the words would not be forgotten, Mohammed's successor, Abu Bakr decided to collect and preserve them in a book. He appointed Zayd ibn Thabit, a Muslim scribe who had been close to Mohammed, the task of compiling the verses (known as ayahs) and writing them into a single volume. Until then, they had existed on parchment, wood carvings, stones and whatever else could be used as a writing medium. He also wrote down verses recalled from memory by other Muslims. But these writings were meant to confirm what Zayd had already known, because he had committed most of them to memory himself. When it was completed, Abu Bakr keep it in his possession until his own death. It was then passed on to Mohammed's widow, Hafsa bint Umar. By the mid 7th century, as Islam was spreading beyond Arabia, Caliph Othman noticed that variations in the verses began appearing, and he appointed a committee headed by Zayd to write an authorized version of the Qur'an based on the book Zayd had originally written under Abu Bakr. Thus within 20 years of Mohammed's death, the Qur'an had gone from oral to standardized, and distributed throughout the world of Islam. Any versions discovered which varied from the standardized version was destroyed. Today, all existing Qur'ans are believed to be exact copies of the original compiled at the time of Abu Bakr. It is also widely considered the finest work of literature in the Arabic language. One important point about the Qur'an is that it assumes a basic knowledge of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and the God of Islam is also considered to be the same God of the Bible. The difference is that Muslims consider the Bible to have been hopelessly corrupted by outside influences in the centuries before Islam, and therefore, the Qurr'an is the only scripture that can be trusted.