The Qur’an presents itself as the embodiment of the revelation delivered to Muhammad in a clear and pure Arabic, sent down to be ‘a guide and a mercy’ to a people who believe. As such, it deals predominantly with the ultimate issues of official religion, and in the working out of those concerns in the details of human belief and practice.
Perhaps a significant facet of the very coming of the Qur’an via Muhammad is found in the way in which, through it, formal religion is brought to bear upon a people lacking such a dimension to their religious experience. At the same time, calls are made concerning internal commitments to the one God of formal faith in an explanation of the revelation’s claim to be superseding the book religions of Judaism and Christianity.
In the development of such an official religion for largely pagan Arabs, certain concessions are made to their more animistic or folk beliefs and practices. The Qur’an retains such concessions within its embrace, sometimes by heaven-sent inclusion, at other times by comment on situations met with by Muhammad.
In terms of cosmology, the heavens are spoken of as being seven in number, created on above another ‘in storeys’. The concept of shooting stars are designed to pursue and destroy evil spirits which try to penetrate above the heavens to the throne of God and this is repeated several times in the Qur’an.
Angels fill the ‘stairs’ of heaven, and witness of themselves that they are ranked in progressive degrees. Harut and Marut are two interesting angels in the cosmology of the Qur’an – they have access to the power of shayatin, and offer the knowledge of magic to man.
The jinn feature significantly in the Qur’an’s cosmology – indeed a whole sura is devoted to them.
The idea of quarina as referring to a twin spirit is also present in the Qur’an. Dialogue is mentioned as taking place between a man and his qarina or ‘companion’.
The concept of dead prophets being able to act as recipients of blessing finds implicit justification in the Qur’anic injunction to salute Muhammad –
God and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect. – sura 33:56
The concept of the special blessedness of Jerusalem, and the importance of pilgrimage to it, is built upon Qur’anic reference to the special blessing associated with that area of land.
With regard to time, the idea of sacred months appear within the Qur’an. Even within the 24 hour day, for example, Laylat al-Qadr is called the ‘blessed night’.
With regard to orientation, the Qur’an emphasises importance of the qibla, at first the direction of Jerusalem, and later facing Mecca. That latter designation includes references to angels’ worship there at the heavenly equivalent to the earthly kaba.
Some pre-Islamic, occult practices are specifically condemned in the Qur’an. Magic, although usually presented in the Qur’an as a kind of deception, is confessed in some contexts as a real force. This is especially the case with the angels Harut and Marut.
Oaths, or abjurations, are quoted freely throughout the Qur’an, although an effort’s made to condemn perjury.
The intention of the Qur’an to give a focal point and guide for the development in an idol-worshiping society of a high religion must not be minimized.