The word “Quran,” a verbal noun, is equivalent in meaning to “qira’ah,” as both come from the verb “qara’a” which means “to read.”
That is, Quran literally means “a reading or reciting.” However, the term “Quran” has been historically used specifically to refer to the book which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The term “Quran” is mentioned in a number of places throughout the book in reference to itself. For example:
“Verily, this Quran guides (humanity) to that which is most just.”
[Noble Quran 17:9]
The name Quran is used to refer to both the Quran as a whole, as in the previously quoted verse; as well as to each verse or group of verses, as in the following verse:
“And if the Quran is recited, you should listen to it and be silent, that you may receive mercy.”
[Noble Quran 7:204]
The Book has also been referred to by other names; for example, the Furqan (The Distinction):
“Blessed is He who revealed the Furqan to His slave in order that he may be a warner to all the worlds.”
[Noble Quran 25:1]
and the Dhikr, (The Reminder):
“Verily, I revealed the Dhikr and verily I will preserve it.”
[Noble Quran 15:9]
The Quran could be defined as Allah’s words which were revealed in Arabic in a rhythmical form to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Its recitation is used in acts of worship and its smallest chapter (Surah) is of a miraculous nature.
The Prophet’s divinely inspired statements which were recorded by his followers are generally referred to as hadiths. For example, the Prophet’s companion (sahabi), ‘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 sahabi, Abu Hurayrah, reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah, Most High, says, ‘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 hadith from the previous type, it is referred to as hadith qudsi (sacred hadith) and the former referred to as hadith nabawi (prophetic hadith).
The Quran, however, is not the same as hadith qudsi for a number of reasons. First, the Quran is from Allah both in its wording and in its meaning, while in the case of hadith qudsi, its meaning is from Allah but its wording was the Prophet’s (peace be upon him). Second, Allah challenged the Arabs and mankind in general to produce even a chapter equivalent to one of the Quran’s chapters, and their inability to do so proves its miraculous nature. This is not so in the case of hadith qudsi. Third, the recitation of the Quran is used in salah and is itself considered a form of worship. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “Whoever reads a letter from the book of Allah, the Most High, will get a good deed (recorded for him), and each good deed is worth ten times its value. I am not only saying that Alif Laam Meem is a letter, but I am also saying that Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter, and Meem is a letter.”
However, the recitation of hadith qudsi carries none of these properties.