The Quran is the main book of reference to Allah and his teachings among the Muslims. It is remarkably influential among Muslims and non-Muslims. It is also an impressive piece of literature that utilizes the Arabic language (Allen, 2000). It has several interconnected verses (ayat), which bring out 114 chapters (suras).
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The chapters have different lengths and are classified into Meccan and Medinan. These are the places where Mohammed got his visions from Allah. Various sources say that the Quran’s composition dates back to a period between 609 CE and 632 CE (Wansbrough, 1977). This paper is a reflection on some of styles and key ideas that make the Quran unique.
The Concept of I’jaz Al-Qur’an and its Superiority in Terms of Style and Content
Ijaz refers to the inimitability of the Quran. The term signifies that something is inherently impossible. Ijaz highlights the uniqueness of the Quran and one’s inability of imitating it. In order to understand the uniqueness and inimitability of the Quran, one must understand the scripture as a piece of literature. The Quran has gained acceptance among Muslims and non-Muslims because of its content and style (Shorroch, 1988).
There are certain features, which show the uniqueness of the Quran. For example, Fawaatih us suwar (Al huroof al muqatta’a) implying mysterious letters, represents such exceptional features. Many of the surahs of the Quran start with letters that had not been witnessed before in the Arabic literature and language. For instance, the words alif lam meem in Surat al baqara.
Many authors and some Muslims have tried to explain the terms in the Quran in broad terms, all in vain. There are allegations by many Muslims that only Allah knows the meaning of these words. Grammatical shift (iltifaat) also makes up the inimitability of the Quran (Yusuf, 1989).
The Main Stylistic Features of the Qur’an
This refers to the arrangement of texts in a way that brings out the intended meaning of something. Roger (2000) asserts that the Quran’s author utilized a mixture of poetry and prose. Indeed, the two styles are used in a way that connects each surah and verse to another. The main features include; prose which employs rhythm and rhyme, variations in styles, stylistic distinction, alliteration, assonance, metaphors, hyperbole, rhetorical questions, stress and synecdoche.
Saj or prose
This is a style which employs both rhythm and rhyme. The rhythm is not consistent. Saj used in the Quran has an accent-based rhythm, use of rhyme at the end of words and continuous usage of rhetorical phrases and questions. Rhythm is whereby there is a recurrence of words or statements. The author utilized this style in the Meccan suras. In these suras, it is characterized by tendencies of mono rhymes and inexact rhymes as seen in the following phrases;
Inna aAtayna kal kawthar
Fasalli li rabbika wanhar
Inna shani-aka huwal abtar
The other features include alliteration or repeating the first sounds of neighboring words as used in Quran 33:71 and 77:20. Assonance is a case where an author repeats the vowel sounds. It is evident in Quran 88:25-26. Metaphors are direct comparisons of things or situations. For instance, a statement like Ahmed is a lion shows that Ahmed is brave. Good examples in the Quran are in chapter 21:18 and 16:103. Hyperbole, which means exaggerating something, appears in 7:40 and 39:71-72.
Rhetorical questions are questions in which the author does not require an answer. They communicate a point and make the reader think deeply about a phrase. A typical example is in Quran 55:60 and 37:91-92. Stress is a feature whereby something is said repeatedly so as to emphasize a point. It can be seen in Quran 29:62 and 33:92. Synecdoche is the use of a part of something to represent a clear picture of the whole. It is evident in Quran 90:12-13.
The Difference between Meccan and Medinan Verses
The meccan and medinan verses of the Quran’s surahs vary considerably (Yusuf, 1989). Most of the Surahs depict the life of Mohammed in Mecca, and the rest show Mohammed’s life experiences in Medina. The Medinan verses are longer and more precise than the Meccan ones. It is imperative to note that the difference comes out as a result of the different kinds of life that Mohammed lived in these two places.
When he was in Mecca, there was a lot of pagan worship especially in the Kaaba. He got visions while he was there that urged him to tell people about Allah. His main objective was to influence Jews and Christians, and gather followers of Islam from Jews and Christians. Living in Medina, Mohammed showed that the Christians and Jews were quite different from Muslims (Watt, 1956). Many medinan verses speak ill of the Jews.
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All these differences can be seen in Surah 29:46 of Meccan passages, 5:73 and 9:30 of Medina. Another significant difference is that only the Medinan verses show the remarkable name given to Jesus, namely, Messiah. The meccan verses do not contain such a name.
In essence, the Quran is an indispensable reference book among the Muslims, similar to the Bible among Christians. It has gained acceptance all over the globe due to its uniqueness. It addresses the messages given to people by Mohammed with a lot of reference to Allah. Because of its acceptance, some Christians continue to use it in the disciplines of comparative religion, as well as theology. Thus, the influence of the Quran and its unique style cannot be underrated.
Allen, R. (2000). An Introduction to Arabic Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shorroch, A. (1988). Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab’s View of Islam. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Wansbrough, J. (1977). Quranic Studies. New York: Oxford University Press,
Watt, M. (1956). Muhammad at Medina. New York: Oxford University Press.
Yusuf, A. (1989). The Holy Qur’an (Revised Edition). Brentwood: Amana Corporation.
Yusuf, A. (1989). The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an. (10th ed.) Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications.