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The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God. It is widely regarded as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language. Muslims consider the Quran to be the only book that has been protected by God from distortion or corruption. However, major textual variations and deficiencies in scripts mean the relationship between the text of today's Quran and an original text is unclear. Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed from God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel, gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. Shortly after Muhammad's death, the Quran was collected by his companions using written Quranic materials and everything that had been memorized of the Quran. Muslims regard the Quran as the most important miracle of Muhammad, the proof of his prophethood and the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with the messages revealed to Adam and ended with Muhammad. The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. It summarizes some, dwells at length on others and, in some cases, presents alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance. It sometimes offers detailed accounts of specific historical events, and it often emphasizes the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence. The Quran is used along with the hadith to interpret sharia law. During prayers, the Quran is recited only in Arabic. (via Freebase)