A Structural Analysis of Qur’an 56

By: Zakyi Ibrahim  

Muslim experts of Arabic literature generally believe that structurally, the Qur’an is a beautiful edifice, full of captivating and attractive eloquence. Sources show that, Al-Walid ibn al-Mughira, a non-Muslim contemporary of the Prophet, allegedly praised the Qur’an for its beauty. However, some modern non-Muslims are of different opinions altogether. Thomas Carlyle’s 1840 lecture on Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an, though uniquely meant to dismiss and deflect the contemporary negative and harsh criticisms of both, nonetheless, painted a far less than flattery picture of the Qur’an. “It is a toilsome reading…wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iteration, long-windedness, entanglement; most crude, incondite – insupportable stupidity, in short!” Carlyle insisted. (Carlyle, 198). This paper—without engaging in apologetics or attempting to come down on other side of the question of the Qur’an’s aesthetic qualities—will focus on the stylistics of chapter 56 (al-Waqi‘at) and analyze its internal structural consistencies. By recourse to contemporary theories of writing, I will show that Q. 56 is, in structure and form, an excellent example of “internal coherence,” consisting of a succinct preamble, a detailed elaboration with supporting elements, and finally, a summary and specific conclusion. Reference will of course be made to the work of Neuwirth (2007) and Cuypers (2009, 2011).

Quran, Arabic Literature, Structural Analysis, Quran Aesthetic
Religious Foundations
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Zakyi Ibrahim