The word Qur’an, a verbal noun, is equivalent in meaning to Qiraa’ah, as both come from the verb Qara’a, which means to read.
That is, Qur’an literally means a reading or a recitation. However, the term Qur’an has been historically used specifically to refer to the book which was revealed by Allah to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) through the angel Jibreel. The term Qur’an is mentioned in a number of places throughout the book in reference to itself. For example,
“Verily, this Qur’an guides (man) to that which is most just.” (Soorah al-Israa’ (17):9)
The name Qur’an is used to refer to both the Qur’an as a whole as in the previously quoted verse, as well as to each verse or group of verses:
“And if the Qur’an is recited, you should listen to it quietly (and be silent).” (Soorah al-Aa‘raaf (7):38)
The Book has also been referred to by other names, for example, the Furqaan (The Distinction),
“Blessed is He Who revealed the Furqaan to His slave in order that he may be a warner to all worlds.” (Soorah al-Furqaan (25):1)
And, the Dhikr (The Reminder),
“Verily, We revealed the Dhikr and verily, We will preserve it.” (Soorah al-Hijr (15):9)
The Qur’an itself could be defined as Allah’s words which were revealed in Arabic in a rhythmical form to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Its recitation is used in acts of worship and even its smallest chapter (Soorah) is of a miraculous nature.
The Prophet’s divinely inspired statements which were recorded by his followers are generally referred to as Hadeeths. For example, the Prophet’s companion (Sahaabee), ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, reported that he once said,
“Verily, deeds are (judged) by their intentions.”
However, in some of his statements, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) attributed what he said to Allah. For example, another Sahaabee, Abu Hurayrah, reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said,
“Allah, Most High, said, ‘I am as My slave thinks of Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. So if he remembers Me to himself, I will remember him to Myself, and if he remembers Me in a group, I will remember him in a better group.’”
In order to distinguish this type of hadeeth from the previous type, it is referred to as Hadeeth Qudsee (Holy Hadeeth) and the former referred to as Hadeeth Nabawee (Prophetic Hadeeth).
The Qur’an, however, is not considered the same as Hadeeth Qudsee for a number of reasons.
First, the Qur’an is from Allah, both in its wording and in its meaning, while in the case of Hadeeth Qudsee, its meaning is from Allah, but its wording was from the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
Second, Allah challenged the Arabs and mankind in general to produce even one chapter equivalent to one of the Qur’an’s chapters and their inability to do so proves its miraculous nature. This is not so in the case of Hadeeth Qudsee.
Third, the recitation of the Qur’an is used in Salaah and is itself considered a form of worship. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said,
“Whoever reads a letter from Allah Most High’s book will get a good deed (recorded for him) and each good deed is worth ten times its value. And, I am not only saying that Alif Laam Meem is a letter, but I am saying that Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter, and Meem is a letter.”
Whereas the recitation of Hadeeth Qudsee carries none of these properties. [See Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p. 15, and Qawaa’id at-Tahdeeth min Funoon Mustalih al-Hadith, p. 56]
The Mode of Presentation
The Qur’an is God’s final communication of His divine will to human kind. It is the Creator speaking to human beings and it takes the form of human conversation. As humans change subjects randomly during conversation, the topics of the Qur’an change in a seemingly random way. Consequently, the format of the Qur’an is quite unique among books. As a whole is not a book in the usual sense of the word wherein there is an introduction and explanation of the subject followed by a conclusion. Neither is it restricted to only a presentation of historical events, problems of philosophy, facts of science, or social laws, though all may be found woven together in it without any apparent connection and links. Subjects are introduced without background information, historical events are not presented in chronological order, new topics sometimes crop up in the middle of another for no apparent reason, and the speaker and those spoken to change direction without the slightest forewarning. The reader who is unaware of the Qur’an’s uniqueness if often puzzled when he finds it contrary to his understanding of a book, especially a “religious” book. Hence, the Qur’an may seem disorganized and haphazard to him. However, to those who understand its subject matter, aim, and its central theme, the Qur’an is exactly the opposite.
 The Prophet’s actions, silent approvals, and his physical characteristics are also referred to as hadeeth.
 Collected by al-Bukhari (Sahih al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol.1, p.1, no.1) and Muslim (Sahih Muslim (English Trans.), vol.3, p.1056, no.4692).
 Collected by al-Bukhari and Muslim (Sahih Muslim (English Trans.), vol.4, p.1408, no.6471.
 Reported by Ibn Mas‘ood and collected by at-Tirmidhi.
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