The Inimitability of the Qur’anic Rhetorical Style Part 2.

By Dr. Nabil A Haroon

Source : Qu’ran, The Miracle of Islam Chapter 2

3/4   The Inimitability of the Qur’anic Narratives

 1        The unity of their objectives to achieve three aims: Proving both the Revelation and prophethood, providing admonition and lessons, and emphasizing the unity of the heavenly messages.

2        The eloquence of mentioning only the details that consolidate those goals.

3        The repetition of narrating the stories in different surahs, in different forms, and with different objectives and contexts each time, which makes the subject of the narrative integrated in spite of narrating it in different scenes and positions. This is obvious when you compare the narratives of the Prophets Noah (AS), Hud (AS), Saleh (AS), Ibrahim (AS) (Abraham), Lut (AS) (Lot), and Shu’ayb (AS) in the surahs of al-A’raf, Hud, and ash-Shu’ara.

4        Introducing advice and admonitions within every narrative, situation, or dialogue.

5        Pictorial and live exposition (See 3.1.)

6        The diversity in introducing the narrative.

7        The dramatic demonstration of the interrelated shots and scenes, in addition to excluding whatever is unnecessary in order to enrich imagination.


3/5 The Miracle of Legislative Rhetorical Style

 1        Gathering all the subjects by guidance and admonition.

2        The gradual legislation to familiarize people with abandoning obscenities as in the ayahs signifying the gradual prohibition of wine as well as the gradual legislation of jihad.

3        Showing clemency and assuring whoever obeys the law of Allah of prosperity and righteousness in both life and afterlife.

4        Drawing attention to the worst characteristics and acts of the rejecters of faith, while highlighting the most elevated attributes and deeds of the believers.

5        Focusing on the steady contrast between the rewards in jannah (Paradise) and the punishments in hellfire.

 3/6   The Inimitability of the Surahs of the Quran[13]

 1        Inclusiveness of the meanings and the homogeneity of style and rhythm for each surah, in spite of discussing a variety of subjects, being revealed on different occasions; as well as in spite of:

a.       The fact that moving from one meaning to another is more difficult than moving among the parts of the same meaning.

b.      The sporadic revelation of the Qur’an over time according to the events and causes; this would have caused discontinuity and a lack of interconnection had it been the work of a human.

c.       The fact that gathering contents which are diverse in meaning, separated in time, and different in circumstances in one long and rich text is likely to cause incoherence, distraction, contradiction and divergence (e.g., try gathering a group of the Prophet’s (SAWS) ahadeeth of any subject or some of the separated writings of  a skillful writer about a certain subject in one whole text, to experience what is meant in that point)

d.      Humans’ inability to specify the exact position of each component of a certain structure before completing those components or even experiencing their nature.  Apply this concept to any institution, industry or on any human activity to be sure that the ability of the Qur’an to include this is an ever-lasting challenge to the entire human ability.

2        The gathering of all those factors in each surah which was revealed sporadically without the slightest effect on its unity or firmness is literally the greatest miracle of all.  No one ever dares to put such a detailed, previously drawn and edited plan, then execute it with unparalleled precision but the All-Knowing who is beyond every field of thinking.

3        Moreover, the accurate harmony between all these universal events and the regulation of  the rhetorical units (of the Qur’an) distinctly witnesses that these events and words come from one unique source, and that He who said these words is certainly He who made those events. [14]

3/7   The Inimitability of the Qur’anic Rhetorical Style in Summary

What has been mentioned in detail about the aspects of the miraculous nature of the Qur’anic rhetorical style can be summarized in the following:

First, “all the aspects of perfection and elegance were gathered in its structure, either in the selection of its expressions, or the arrangement of its words; in its grammatical structures, or its figures of speech.  This is achieved in a way that ensures the most elevated levels of precision in expressing sophisticated meanings and interrelated sentiments, maintaining satisfaction of mind, and elation of listening, influencing the feelings, in addition to stimulating resolution.  This emphasizes that it was perfectly created and wisely designed even before it was revealed, taking into account every letter, word, sentence, ayah, and surah, until the entire completed book with its integrated surahs (from the outside and inside).  This is despite the fact that the Qur’an was revealed sporadically in surahs (even in different ayahs or groups of ayahs within the same surah) over a period of twenty three years and on rather diverse occasions.”

Second,”the disparity between the rhetoric of Qur’an and any other rhetorical style is not represented by ‘some’ of the elements of its artistic structural units such as the eloquent (standard Arabic) words, stylistic techniques, or figures of speech; for those can be found in Arabic sayings, as well as in the Qur’an.  It is not represented either by ‘some’ attributes of speech (in its effect, expression, and elegance) which can be sensed unevenly in humans and mostly elevated in the Qur’an.  Instead, it is the union of ‘all’ the attributes of perfection and elegance and at their most elevated level throughout the Qur’anic eloquence”   

Part I Conclusion

1.                   The text of the Qur’an is the greatest miracle of all times; it is the embodiment of the ultimate beauty, glory and perfection, which all of mankind cannot match was illustrated in the first chapter.

2.                   The relation of the Prophet (SAWS) to the Qur’anic text does not exceed that of a receiver of the revelation who honestly delivers it to the people word by word, as was  proved in the second chapter.

3.                    The successive style shifts in the Qur’anic speech prove the miraculous nature of the Qur’an.  Through this method, Allah (SWT) shifts between direct and indirect address with what befits the Sublimity of His Lordship. He (SWT) also addresses the Prophet (SAWS) using a different speech style, and this method applies to the rest of contexts in the Qur’an.

4.                   All of the above and much more is a solid proof that the Qur’an, with its stunning glory, effectiveness and accuracy can never be the words of our Prophet (SAWS).  It cannot be but the words of a Wise Power beyond us all.  They are the words of Allah, The All-Knowing, The Wise, Whose words surpass the volume of His seas.  He (SWT) challenged mankind to come up with a better text, and they  failed and realized that their limited literacy and intellect could never come even close

Allah (SWT)  says what can be translated as, Surely there was a group of My bondmen who said, ‘Our Lord, we believe, so forgive us and have mercy on us, and You are The Most Charitable of the merciful’” (TMQ, 23:109), and “…. They say, ‘Our Lord, we believe; so write us down among the witnesses’” (TMQ, 5:83).


Faith Exercises

Now after you have been introduced to the different speech styles of address

and have seen different examples of style shifts in the Qur’an, in which Allah addresses His creation and, in particular, the Prophet (SAWS) in different forms:

1.                   Practice reading the Qur’an with a different perspective.  While reading, look for examples of style shifts and reflectupon their glory and wisdom.  Trace the different forms of address used by Allah (SWT) and notice how each choice is the most suitable and effective in the given situation, either when Allah refers to Himself (AWJ), addresses the Prophet (SAWS), guides and brings good tidings to the believers, forewarns the disbelievers, or refers to the wonders of His omnipotence and to the unseen, whose knowledge is exclusive to Him (SWT).

2.                   Consider the result of changing the form of speech in any ayah or Qur’anic phrase.  Notice how this change would distort the intended meaning and how this would diminish the Sublimity of Allah’s Lordship.  Such results confirm that the Qur’an with its wise choice of speech forms cannot be the words of any human being.

3.                   Try to study the basics of Arabic literary eloquence, grammar and forms of speech in order that you can perceive and appreciate the miraculous nature of the Qur’anic language.  Consult the different interpretations of the Qur’an that elaborate on its eloquence and speech styles.  For example, there are “Safwat al-Tafaseer” (The Elite of Interpretations) by Muhammad Ali al-Saboony, “Fee Dhelal al-Qur’an” (In the Shades of the Qu’ran) by Sayed Qotb, and “Al-Tafseer Al-Moneer” (The Enlightened Interpretation) by Wahba al-Zaheely.  For further knowledge, you can consult the different traditional and contemporary references that are specialized in the miraculous nature of the Qur’an.

4.                   To learn the reasons behind the revelation of the different ayahs, especially those that include speeches addressed to the Prophet (SAWS); check in this respect the references included in the various books of interpretation.

[1] Shariah = the ethical and moral code based on the Qur’an and sunnah.

[2] A chapter; the Qur’an is comprised of 114 surahs.

[3] Those who believe in the “Torah” or the “Gospel”.

[4] Ayahs: Plural form of “ayah” [a verse in the Qur’an].

[5] Seerah = the biography of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)

[6]AWJ=  Aza-Wa-Jal [Glorified and Sublime be He]

[7] An invisible being of fire

[8]  People of Madinah who supported the Prophet (SAWS)

[9] May Allah be pleased with him/her

[10] An incident that happened at the time of the Prophet (SAWS), when some hypocrites accused Lady Aisha (RA) and Safwan Ibn-Mu’atal (RA) of committing adultery.  Later on, Qur’an was revealed that proved the innocence of Lady Aisha from all the false allegations of the hypocrites.  [Translator’s note]

[11]  Muhammad Abdullah Deraz, an-Naba’ al-Adheem (The Great Tidings).  Realized and interpreted by Abdul-Hamid Ahmad ad-Dakhakhny.  Free quotation.

[12]  AS= ‘Alayhe as-Salam (Peace be upon him).

[13] See; Mohammad Abdullah Deraz, Annaba’ al-A’dheem (The Great Tidings), commented by Abdulhameed Ahmad Ad-Dakhakhni.  Free quotaion.

[14]  e.g. The interrelation of meanings was practically analyzed in one chain of ideas that is consisted by successive rings of thoughts, in one unique context in which words and sentences hold close; this was in Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow), the longest surah in the Qur’an (282 ayahs) and which was revealed according to the information given on 81 to 89 occasions during nine years (See; Mohammad Abdullah Deraz; an-Naba’ al-‘Adheem (The Great Tidings).

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