Saturday, September 19, 2009

Literary styles used in the Quran

Number of times in the Quran, Allah uses literally styles to bring home the point. I've listed four of the many.

1. Rebuking Interrogative: This linguistic tool to bring realization to the listener of the reality. It rebukes him for doing a certain action, or believing a particular matter. It makes the listener realize his fallacy, and that error is too obvious to be explained.

For instance, surah adiyaat.

أَفَلَا يَعْلَمُ إِذَا بُعْثِرَ مَا فِي الْقُبُورِ (100:9)

But does he not know that when the contents of the graves are scattered

2. "What can explain to you..?": This is used in the Quran in several places. It shows the listener that he cannot comprehend the matter. Such words fill the listeners' heart with fear and awe.

For instance, Surah Qari'ah, this question tells the listener (after much anticipation) that words cannot explain what it means, and that it’s out of our imagination and comprehension.

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْقَارِعَةُ (101:3)

And what can make you know what is the Striking Calamity


(82:18)ثُمَّ مَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

Then, what can make you know what is the Day of Recompense?

3. Listing the reasons for an action, before mentioning the action itself: For instance, Surah Quraysh,

لِإِيلَافِ قُرَيْشٍ (106:1)

إِيلَافِهِمْ رِحْلَةَ الشِّتَاء وَالصَّيْفِ (106:2)

فَلْيَعْبُدُوا رَبَّ هَذَا الْبَيْتِ (106:3)

الَّذِي أَطْعَمَهُم مِّن جُوعٍ وَآمَنَهُم مِّنْ خَوْفٍ (106:4)

Sh Sohail Hanif of SunniPath explains, the verses should have read, “Quraysh must worship their Lord due to the trade routes made easy for them.”

But, Allah mentions His favours on the Quraysh, and then later in the Surah, you'll read as a result of the favours, the Quraysh should worship Allah.

The listener will be in suspense, trying to figure out, what it is the reason for. Finally, when the command is mentioned, it leaves an impression on the listener.

The verse then read, “Due to the ease and comfort given to Quraysh in their trade caravans, then they must worship their Lord.”

4. Omitting the object of a verb: The threat has a greater impact on the listener, if what he is being threatened with is not explicitly mentioned. It increases fright and leaves the listener imagining every possibility with apprehension.

For instance, Surah At Takathur, the listener doesn't know what is man distracted from. Some scholars have suggested, it is being omitted because there are so many things, it is felt to the listeners to think.
أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ (102:1
Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you

Nouman Ali Khan, Bayinnah Institute explains the use of this literary style is to make the listener think and reflect. There are number of places in the Quran where there are blanks - it is up to us to fill those up. Quran is very interactive.

Another example, surah as shams,
وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَاهَا (91:4)
By the Night as it conceals it;

The object of the verb, conceal, is not apparent. It is left up to the listener to deduce.
Quran teaches us to think and think hard.

Source: SunniPath - Tafsir of Short Surahs and Bayyinah - Dream

This post was submitted for's Mission:Ramadan project


ZaynabChinoy said...

Mashallah Hafsa! that's some great observation.

humtum said...

Allah said in Quran that 'think' and 'observe' so that you can find new dimensions great observation Hafsa keep it up

Sara Cullins said...

Perfect observation! Love the contents! Keep it up!