Qur’an Survey


Qur’an is today’s widely accepted spelling for Koran, the authoritative book of Islam. It has 114 chapters, each called a Sura; the word for verse is ayah. Constantly repeated themes are to worship only one god, to forsake idols (6:236, 7:195, 11.7), and many warnings from Bible stories about those who did not heed the messenger God sent them. Also “God will do whatever he wishes” and “God is forgiving and merciful to those who repent and believe and do good deeds.”

The following three sections are:
1.Teachings found both in the Bible and in the Qur’an
2.Episodes not found in the Bible relating to Bible characters
3.Teachings in which the Qur’an differs from the Bible

1.The Qur’an makes references to these teachings and people found in the Bible:

Creation by God is mentioned in 5 suras, with 6-day creation specified in 7 Suras. 

Characteristics of God mentioned include: Merciful (1:2, 4:27, 25:70); forgiving (3:16, 35:28, 39:53); owns everything ((4:132, 10:53); all-hearing (6:13), all-knowing (6:13, 11:5), all-powerful (57:2), eternal (112), unbegotten (112), protector (6:13), supreme master (6:18), promises are true (10:53), give and takes life ((10:56).

Angels include Michael and Gabriel (2:97); Qur’an as given to Muhammed by Gabriel in 26:193

Satan (called Idlib) mentioned in 5 suras. Spirits called Jinn are mentioned in 3 suras. 

Adam (3:30), was created out of clay (6:2, 15:26), named the animals (2:30), ate of the forbidden fruit (2:30, 7:19f, 20:120), with eve (4:1) and the story of Cain and Abel (5:27ff).

Noah is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 6 suras. He was rejected by the people, who then perished (mentioned in 9 suras), and saved in a boat (in 10 suras).

Abraham mentioned in lists of the righteous in 11 suras.  Islam regards itself as the true and only follower of the religion of Abraham (22:78), with Abraham as the model of a “submitter.”

Ishmael mentioned in 5 suras. Isaac mentioned in 6 suras, and the story of Abraham obeying the command to sacrifice Isaac is in 37:99ff.

The messengers who told Sarah she would bear a child are in 4 suras, and the messengers who told Abraham that the city Lot lived in will be destroyed is in 2 suras.

Lot is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 2 suras, plus the story of him fleeing his city (described in 7.80 as having “those who lust after men instead of women”) is repeated in 10 suras.

Jacob is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 5 suras. The 12 tribes of Israel are mentioned in 3:84 and 4:14.

Joseph is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 3 suras. The story of his dreams and time in Egypt is in sura 12.

Moses is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 5 suras, and that God spoke with him is in 4 suras, and that God gave scriptures to him is mentioned in 7 suras. Being put in the basket in 2 suras, killing the man and escaping to Midian in 2 suras, and seeing the burning bush in 3 suras.

Moses’ encounter with Pharaoh is repeated in 8 suras, and the staff becoming a snake in 6 suras. The ten plagues are mentioned in 7:132. The escape through the Red Sea and drowning of Pharaoh and his army is in 9 suras. Moses choosing 70 men is in 7:55. 

Aaron is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 5 suras. His interplay with Moses in 20:30, and the golden calf incident in 3 suras. The experiences while wandering in the wilderness include the manna and quail (in 3 suras) water from the rock (in 2 suras), Korah swallowed up by the earth is in 28:70, and arrival in the promised land in 2 suras.

Gideon is mentioned in 2:249, and King Saul (called Talut) is in 2:246. David is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 3 suras. Killing of Goliath in 2:249, being given the Psalms in 2 suras, and repentance when told the story about a man stealing someone’s sheep in 38:24. Solomon is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 3 suras.

Elijah and the prophets of Baal is in 37:123ff, and Elisha is mentioned in a list in 6:84. Jonah is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 2 suras, his time in the whale in 21:87, and the repentance of those to whom he preached in 2 suras. Job is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 2 suras; his faithfulness in adversity in 38:41, and his family restored in 21:83.

Zechariah (father of John) mentioned in 4 suras, and Elizabeth in one. 

Jesus is mentioned in lists of the righteous in 6 suras. Jesus as sent by God in 5:45, and calling himself as a worshipper of God (but not God) in 5:116 and 61:6.  Having the Holy Spirit and giving signs is in 2:87. Healing and bringing dead to life is in 5:109.

Some familiar New Testament teachings are found in 39:29 (you cannot serve two masters) and 35:43. (all have sinned). Accepting monotheism (2:133) and rejecting idols is stressed throughout the Qur’an. Reality of Judgement Day is taught in 15 of the suras, Resurrection of the dead in 4 suras, hell is described in 2 suras, paradise is described in 3 suras. Most of the ten commandments are found within the Qur’an: I did not see #2 “taking the Lord’s name in vain.”

Other behaviors to avoid are: Witchcraft (2:102, 5:90); usury (2:276); arrogance (4:36); showing off wealth (2:38) dividing into factions (42:13); intoxicants ((5:90); gambling (5:90); sacrificing children (6:236). Positive behaviors enjoined: walk humbly (25:63), counter aggressive talk with peaceful words (25:63).

2.Episodes not found in the Bible about Biblical characters. 

Stories about Satan. A teaching that he was condemned because he refused God’s command to bow down before Adam is in Suras 7, 15, 17, and 38.

Stories about Noah: His son refused to board the ark, instead climbed a mountain, and drowned. (11.42)

Stories about Abraham: that he rejected his father’s idols is mentioned in 7 suras.

Stories about Joseph. Details about the woman who seduced him provided in Sura 12.

Stories about Pharaoh: he was warned by a believer not to reject Moses’ message. (40:28ff. )He told someone named Haman to make a tall building to climb up to Moses’ God. (Sura 28 and 40).  Pharaoh’s sorcerers accepted the God of Moses ((20.76)

Stories about Jesus. His birth took place under a palm tree (19:16), he and his mother were given rest on a hillside with flowing water (23.50). Jesus as an infant spoke to the villagers who did not want Mary to live with them (19:16). He fashioned a bird from clay and gave it life. (3:49 and 5:109). The father of Mary is called Imram. (3:33).  “They did not kill Jesus” is taught in 4:157. Jesus is only a messenger of God (4:171, 5:75, 19:30).

Stories about Solomon. God gave Solomon good judgement in a case where sheep had strayed. (21:78). Some jinn were subservient to Solomon and helped him build palaces (34.12, 38:37f). God harnessed the wind for Solomon so his ships could speed to land (In 21, 34, and 38). Solomon knew the language of birds, who told him news about the ruler of Sheba (27:20). 

3.Teachings particular to Islam.

That Muhammad is God’s messenger. (2:4, 5:48, 10:94, 28.44ff, 48.29). Directives to accept God’s messenger (47:2). That God has not done miracles through Muhammad is not an excuse to reject his message (17:89)

About the Qur’an: that God gave it to Muhammad (21:48). That it is compatible with revelations given by previous messengers (41:43). 

About Islam (which means devotional submission). Called the true religion. (2:19). Islam described as religion of Abraham (2:129 and 136; 4:125); those devoted to God are called Muslims (22:78).

That newer revelations take the place of older ones. Sura 2:106: Any revelation we cause to be superseded or forgotten, we replace with something better. Sura 16:101: When we substitute one revelation for another – and God knows best what he reveals — … say that the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation with the truth step by step from your Lord…

About the Night Journey, when Muhammad was taken from Mecca to Jerusalem and then to see heaven. Sura 17. 

About Abraham and Ishmael and the Ka’aba (In Suras 2,5, 22) Pilgrims are to go there (22:29). Directive to pray toward Mecca (2:144f)

Claiming that God can have an associate deity or a son is condemned in 16 suras.

Paradise (also called garden) is described in 6:27, 44:54, 23:17. Who goes to paradise: Believing God and his messenger. (2:126, 3:16, 4;36, 5:65, 10:63, 25.70, 47:4.Through merits (2:277, 4:40, 11:3 and 11, 23:101, 25:70, 29:9; 47.)  avoiding “great sins” (4:31). Charity will atone for bad deeds (2:271); Foregoing due punishment will atone for bad deeds (5:45), Those who repent (2:127, 25:70). Those who continue in prayer ((2:277); 

Hell is described in 3:16 and Sura 111. Who goes to hell: Those who disobey God (4:14), disobey God’s messenger (4:56), anyone who kills a believer (4:93); those who are too proud (40:60); those who break their agreements (13:26); those who worship false gods ((14:30).

About God’s control. God determines who will believe (10:100, 35.8). 

About women. Dress code. Tell …  woman believers to make their outer garments hang low over them (other translators say “wrap around”) so as to be recognized and not insulted. (33: 59) Multiple wives are restricted, but this does not apply to slave girls. (4:2, 33:52). (33:39) may apply to this topic; it says “do not expose more than is customary.”  

About Food laws. Blood and pig’s meat is forbidden (2:173, 5:3, 6:121).

About war. Those killed in battle receive paradise (1:153, 3:167 and 195). There are limits on war (2:190-3) – don’t kill except by right (17:32, 25:63); Those who have been attacked are permitted to take up arms because they have been wronged. (22:39); Fight the people of the book until they pay the tax (9:29). Kill those who attack you (4:33 and 89, 9:5, 47:4). Believers fight until there is no more persecution and all worship is devoted to God alone. (8:39). 5:33 says: Those who wage war against God and His messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot, or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter … 34. Unless they repent before you overpower them — in that case, bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful.

About Punishments. Cut off the hands of thieves. (5:38)

About relations with Jews and Christians, called People of the Book in 5:68 and 59:2. Positive comments: 2:62, 3:110, 5:18. Negative comments 2:113, 3:69f, 5:68). Two verses say that the God of Islam is the same as the God of Christians and Jews: 2:139 and 29:46.

God does not expect more than you can bear: he is merciful if you are unable to follow his commands but do repent. (2:286, 4:28). There is no compulsion in religion (2:256).


Note: Muslim teachings today have their source not only on the Qur’an but also from the Hadith (stories about the prophet) and the Sunna (examples of the prophet and his companions.) Sunni Muslims are named for the fact that they follow the Sunna. Shi’ite Muslims share most of the Sunni with them, but have their own collection of Hadith, and differ on how the leader of the Muslim community should be chosen.

This page was assembled by Jim Found in 2019.

Go to Survey of World Religions