According to Islam, Allah appoints prophets, each known as rasul, or the sent one. These prophets are human but come under Allah's protection.
Revelation is from Allah to humankind through the prophets. The final revelation went through the final prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Previous prophets included Isa (Jesus), Musa (Moses) and Ibrahim (Abraham). Their messages became corrupted requiring a new revelation. The Qur'an is perfect and unchanging and is the final revelation. Muslims believe that the Qur'an is an absolutely identical copy of the eternal heavenly book, in every detail.
So Muhammad is not the author of the Qur'an; Allah is the author.
The revelations were sent down (Tanzil or Nazil) (sura 17:85), to the lowest of the seven heavens at the time of the month of Ramadan, during the night of power or destiny ('Lailat al Qadr'). From there the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) revealed it (sura 25:32) to Muhammad and did so in stages up to 632 CE.
The Arabic word 'Qur'an' comes from the root 'qara'a', which means to recite or recitation.
Recite was the command which the angel Jibril (Gabriel) asked Muhammad to do three times in July or August 610 C.E. in the Hira cave, situated three miles north-east of Makkah.
The Qur'an is also referred to as 'Al-Kitab' (the book), 'Al-furkan' (the distinction), 'Al-mas'haf' (the scroll), and 'Al-dikhr' (the warning), as well as other names.
The Qur'an consists of 114 chapters (suras), made up of 30 parts, 6,616 verses (ayas), 77,943 words, and 338,606 letters.
86 of the suras were revealed in Makkah, while 28 suras were revealed at Madinah. Portions of some suras were recited in both places, however.
The suras vary in size and are known by a name or title, which come from the general theme of that sura, or a particular subject, person or event within.
Each verse or portion of the sura is known as an aya, or miracle.
The Qur'an did not exist in its written form during Muhammad's lifetime. It was collated later.
Muhammad is said to have been illiterate. Muhammad remembered it so perfectly to give it to others who remembered it themselves perfectly, or wrote it perfectly, to be then assembled perfectly after Muhammad's death in 632.
Scattered parts of the Qur'an were first collected under Muhammad's successor, the first Caliph Abu Bakr (of two years, died 634) by Zaid Ibn Thabit. There was a concern that people memorising the Qur'an might die or be killed.
Under the Caliph Uthman, Zaid Ibn Thabit was asked to produce a standard text and he took three or twelve colleagues to help.
Six identical hand written parchment copies were made for a reading which were then sent out across the Muslim world. Other versions were removed.
The Qur'an is usually read in Arabic although some use translations which have less authority (as they cannot be perfect).
A Qur'an is regarded as a sacred object.
It must be approached carefully, held in clean hands and kept inside a cover when not in use on the highest piece of furniture in the room.
It is placed on a stand, to keep it away from the floor, when read.
Some people learn the entire Qur'an by heart and gain the title of Hafiz.