The name Qur'an means "recitation" and recalls the origins of these sacred writings in the sermons of Muhammad. The name also suggests the way in which the Qur'an is best communicated, which is by being recited.
The Qur'an is believed to be of divine origin, for it is God's Word, which was revealed to Muhammad during the twenty years from his first revelation in 610 CE until the end of his life. Tradition holds that this work was begun by Muhammad's first successor, Abu Bakr, and was finished in the caliphate of Uthman, which ended in 656 CE.
The Qur'an covers a wide variety of topics and discusses figures who are also found in the Jewish and Christian Bibles: Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus, Mary, and others. It also gives practical admonitions about everyday life such as property rights, money, inheritance, marriage, and divorce.
The Qur'an has 114 chapters, or suras. Each sura has a traditional name, derived from an image or topic mentioned in it.
Some handwritten copies of the Qur'an are great artworks in themselves, often filled with gold letters and colorful geometrical designs.
The repetition of phrases and images is comforting to Muslims, who have heard them recited aloud in daily prayers and in sermons since childhood.