Linguistic Inimitability

BY Dr. Nabil Haroon

Main Points

Verbal Inimitability:

         The perfection in selecting every word in such a way that they present the meanings with the utmost accuracy and fulfillment of purpose that could not be realized by any other words.

         The accurate selection of synonyms. That is to say, that there is a distinction between the minute differences of meaning in such a way that if a word were to be replaced with its synonym, the text would lose its deep significance, delicate representation, and beautiful tone.

         The homogeneity in the Qur’anic meaning of every synonym whenever it is repeated in the Holy Qur’an.

         The skill displayed in using the very same word in different places in such a manner that it presents different meanings according to its place in the Holy Qur’an.

          The homogeneity of the use of prepositions and conjunctions, with the same precise significance of each, throughout the Holy Qur’an


The Inimitability of the Qur’anic Sentence:

         The verbal and phonic conformity is perceived by the ear, even if the person does not comprehend the meaning or know Arabic. This leads to facility in the articulation of the Qur’anic verses. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

 ]وََلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْءَانَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِر [

Meaning: And indeed, We have already made the Qur’an easy for rememberance. Is there then any that
will recollect? (Surah Al-Qamar – Verse No. 32)

Thus, Allah made the Holy Qur’an easy to be memorized even by a small child, just as it was memorized by previous generations. There is no other text of such length and diversity whose memorization has been made easy by Allah, except His supreme Qur’an.

         It uses the shortest expressions with the widest meanings

         Rhetorical deletion is used in some places to present the meaning in the most expressive and influential sentences.

         The cohesive order of the words within the sentences, and the order of the sentences within the verses is given with the aim of achieving the most exact expression and deepest effect.

         The perfect use of rhetorical images, metaphors, and literary styles such as exclamations, negations, interrogations, and vocatives, to the optimum extent  and effect, without hyperbole or artifice.


The Inimitability of the Qur’anic Story:

         The unity of the aims of the Qur’anic story endeavors to meet three goals: proving the truth of the revelation and prophethood, advocation and admonition, and clarification of the unity of the divine messages.

         The rhetoric is represented by restricting the details to those serving the aims

         Narration of the same story is repeated in various surahs in different ways. This leads to integrity of the subject of the story, narrated in different settings and Surahs.

         Advice and exhortation is interwoven into the stories.

         Live representation of events. (See 1/1).

         Diversity in beginning the narration of a story.

         Descriptive representation of related pictures and scenes and the deletion of unnecessary scenes, with the aim of arousing the perception and imagination.


The Inimitability of the Legislative Eloquence:

         All subjects were given shades of direction, exhortation, guidance, and direction.

         Legislation was gradually revealed to accustom the people to forsake their bad deeds and habits.

         The facility of Islamic legislation was manifested, yet it was assured that those who follow the laws of Allah will gain success and goodness in the Hereafter

         The worst features and deeds of the unbelievers were highlighted, while the most exalted characteristics and deeds of the believers were depicted in contrast.

         Comparison was continually made between the reward and the punishment, that is to say, Paradise and the Fire


The Inimitability of the Qur’anic Surahs:

         The integrity of the meanings and the homogeneity of the style and rhythm of every surah, despite the fact that each deals with different subjects and that the verses therein were revealed on separate occasions. All this is achieved despite the fact that:

A-     The eloquent art of transferring from one meaning to another is more difficult than moving between the aspects of a particular meaning

B-     The Holy Qur’an was revealed in independent portions according to events and necessity and throughout different periods, which did not allow for connection and coherence.

C-     Narratives that had different significances were revealed at separate times and in various circumstances, and then combined into one flowing narration that could have been a cause of disconnection, epitomization, contradiction, and differences. (This can be illustrated by trying to apply this concept to the texts of the Prophetic Hadiths or discourses of eloquent writers, with the aim of attempting to create one flowing narration.)

D-     Human observers are unable to realize the prospective place of every separate part of a certain structure before its completion, or before even realizing the nature of these parts. (Apply this concept to any construction, industry, or human activity; you shall be certain that the achievement of this in the Holy Qur’an has been a challenge to the ability of the whole of mankind until the end of time.)

         All these reasons are combined in every surah, revealed as they were in separate parts, without decreasing its cohesive unity or rhythm, and this is considered as the greatest of all miracles. No one can make and carry out such a detailed and accurate plan, but one who is All-Knowing and Far Exalted above the levels of the human mind.

         The perpetual and accurate accordance of coming events with the rhetorical units is a clear proof that revealing the Holy Qur’an and causing all coming events emanate from one single source; and also that the One who revealed the Holy Qur’an with His knowledge is the same One who created such creatures with His Will.


Summary of the Inimitable Eloquence:

     The following is a summary of the previously detailed aspects of the inimitable eloquence of the Holy Qur’an:

     The structure of the Holy Qur’an combines all the features of perfection and beauty, whether in the selection of words, the order of words in a sentence, the grammatical structures, or the rhetorical expressions. This is achieved in such a way that it presents the most elevated degrees of accuracy in expressing compound meanings and interpenetrated feelings, achieving the aim of the utmost persuasion and phonetic enjoyment, affecting feelings, and arousing resolution. This confirms the fact that the Holy Qur’an was accurately preordained and designed before its revelation according to exact calculations and wise balance for every letter, sentence, verse, surah, and the Qur’an as a whole. Also, the integration of all the Qur’anic surahs is achieved, and the internal order and unity of every surah is realized, despite it (the Qur’an) having been revealed in different surahs (more accurately, in separate verses or groups of verses from the same surah) over a period of twenty-three years and in extremely differing occasions.

     In addition, the difference between the eloquence of the Holy Qur’an and other forms of eloquence is not only represented by some of the ingredients of the Qur’anic structure, such as the Arabic words, compositional styles, and rhetorical expressions that exist in the Holy Qur’an and the speech of the Arabs as well; nor is it symbolized by some features of speech in respect to effect, expression, or beauty that can be felt (in differing degrees in human speech and with exalted degree in the Holy Qur’an); but rather, the Qur’anic eloquence is represented by the assembly of all of the characteristics of perfection and beauty that is realized to the utmost degree in the whole Qur’anic eloquence, which is not the case with any other text.  

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