Understanding the Qur'an: Themes and Style
NEW PAPERBACK EDITION OF THE HIGHLY ACCLAIMED GUIDE TO THE QUR’AN AND ITS INTERPRETATION BY A WORLD AUTHORITY ON ISLAM
The tenets of Islam cannot be grasped without a proper understanding of theQur’an. In this important introduction, now revised and updated for a newpaperback edition, Muhammad Abdel Haleem examines the Qur’an’s majorrecurrent themes - life and eternity, marriage and divorce, peace and war, waterand nourishment - and for the first time considers these elements in thecontext of Qur’anic linguistic style. With a fresh insight into the background ofthe Qur’an, Professor Haleem examines the context and circumstances leadingto the development of the suras (chapters) and the ayahs (verses) and theconstruction of the Qur’an itself. He shows that popular conceptions of Islamicattitudes to women, marriage and divorce, conflict and society, all differ radicallyfrom the true teachings of the Qur’an. Understanding the Qur’angoes on toexplore the ways in which the Judaic and Christian traditions, as reflected in theBible, may be compared to Qur’anic approaches to similar themes.
others only a few lines. The first scene occurs in 2:30–39, the second in 5:27–31, the third in 7:11–27, then 15:27–48, 17:61–64, 18:50, 20:116–126 and 38:71–85. There are some other verses that refer to individual scenes: 14:22–23 and 36:60–4. There are references to Adam and Eve in 4:1 and 49:13 as the parents of all human beings, and also in 7:189 being created as the first married couple. I will give here a summary of some of the more important scenes, put together to form a continuous
description, al-jawāri 'l-munsha'āt (‘running’ and ‘raised’) – two words in Arabic – is expanded in 42:32–34, which brings out its full significance, one part of the Qur’an explaining another. This principle of intertextuality helps us to understand how the part of our sūra already discussed relates to the next. We often find elsewhere in the Qur’an that when people are on a journey by sea or on land they are reminded of their final return to God (10:23; 36:44; and 43:14). Comparison (e.g.
al-ḥamdu li'llāhi rabbi 'l-‘ālamīn (40:65). It is not surprising, then, that this comes at the beginning of the Fātiḥa to be repeated in the obligatory prayers at least 17 times a day. It should also he noted that in some verses God is mentioned more than once, and is depicted from different perspectives so that we have multiplicity of viewpoints: We are enough for you against all those who ridicule your message, who set up another god beside Allah – they will come to know. We are well aware
24:38, 62, 64; 25:17; 28:46, 56, 68, 70, 75, 87, 29:5, 10, 20, 45, 63; 32:3; 33:2, 13, 17, 25, 50; 35:3, 28; 38:4, 26, 27; 39:2, 3, 22; 40:6, 21, 44; 41:27; 42:5, 47, 49, 53; 46:1, 15; 47:4; 57:9, 21, 29; 59:18; 60:1; 61:13; 63:1, 9; 67:11; 74:31; and 110:3. A large number of the examples involve substituting the name of Allah (sometimes rabb) for His pronoun. Thus: ‘The East and the West belong to Allah: wherever you turn, there is the Face of Allah. Allah is all pervading and all knowing.’
prayer saying, ‘God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffers its bad.’ Then the prayers of the believers continue (2:286). 4. The vitality of the language is also noticed in the high frequency of the affective sentence (al-jumla al-inshā’iyya) as opposed to the indicative sentence (al-jumla al-khabariyya). The difference between the two is an important feature discussed in Arabic balāgha books. An indicative sentence is one that can